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If you have struggled with dieting, upset stomach, or sluggishness (just like I have) you may want to look into eating with intention, also known as mindful eating.
When I first thought about my relationship with food and my eating habits, I didn’t know that eating with intention was actually a thing. I only knew that I wanted to be more aware of my food choices and how they made my body feel.
Analyze Your Current Eating Habits
Going into this process, I already knew I had bad eating habits. Upon reflection, I was able to really pinpoint the habits that needed to change. I also identified the triggers for these bad habits.
My bad eating habits: eating in a rush, eating in front of the tv, and eating too much convenience food.
Because I am always busy, I found that I was always in a hurry to eat. I would sometimes eat so fast, I wouldn’t remember eating at all.
As a mother of two toddlers, my me time starts when the kids go to bed. However, I was eating while watching my tv shows. I don’t think a small treat every once in a while during your favorite show is a bad habit that you have to give up. However, eating half a sleeve of cookies is another story.
When I first had children, I would cook every meal. Going out to eat or eating prepackaged food was just something we didn’t do. Now that I have two toddlers, a husband that works a lot, and a business; I don’t always have the time or energy to cook dinner. This is why prepackaged foods and eating out happen way more than they should.
Look At What You Eat
This one is pretty simple. A lot of people will recommend a food diary. I don’t think that is absolutely necessary, even though I do it. You should already have a pretty good idea. Do you have tacos on Tuesday? Pizza a couple of times a month? Are you on a plant-based diet? If you aren’t able to really identify your eating trends, then I would suggest a food diary. But I know most of you don’t have time for that.
For me, I know that I eat a lot of carbs, consume too much caffeine, have a really bad sweet tooth, and I love really bold flavors. I also know that I get bored with eating the same thing so I need variety.
Get In Touch With How You Feel
So you know how you are eating and what you are eating. Now you need to know how it makes you feel, physically and emotionally. Do you feel sluggish after your favorite meal? Does your stomach hurt? Do you often suffer from heartburn? Does what you eat make you feel guilty? Do you feel energized after eating? I know that’s a lot of thinking but its kind of a big component of eating with intention.
I know that I feel sluggish after eating too many carbs. That my stomach isn’t crazy about caffeine on an empty stomach. That I feel fuller longer if I eat protein at every meal. I know that eating a lower carb diet with plenty of protein makes me feel more energized.
Make A Change
Now that you have all of the knowledge, its time to make a change. What things are you going to work on? What habits need addressing? Are there things you can’t change due to other health issues?
For me, I have started a food diary so I can watch my nutrition better. I can’t eliminate carbs because I have some blood sugar issues, but I can reduce them. I wasn’t eating enough protein so I plan to eat more. I also know to cut my caffeine intake and to make sure I have my coffee with my breakfast, not before. I also plan to quit eating on the run. I need to sit down and enjoy my dinner slowly. I’ll be more relaxed, less likely to eat junk, and I will be able to tell when I have eaten enough.
Eating With Intention
Of course, eating with intention (mindful eating) is a process. Even though you know your habits and you’ve identified the changes you are going to make, it doesn’t stop there. You’ll want to keep all of these things in your mind when planning your meals and while eating. Yes, it is a bunch of work. I never said it was going to be easy.
I actively make sure I am making good decisions. I think about why I am eating my food. I think about how it tastes. I think about the nutrients I am getting. I also think about how I feel while eating it and how I feel afterward. Of course, I don’t think for hours. I don’t write a thesis for every meal. I just give myself a few minutes to reflect. It makes for a good way to disconnect from that iPhone while I eat too!
I do want to note that I am not a health professional. I am just sharing my personal process and thoughts on eating with intention.