6-Day Healthy Eating Challenge – Day 3
Welcome to Day 3 of your healthy eating challenge. So far, we’ve tackled some of the thornier issues of healthy eating and weight loss.
Portion control and measuring require work, but even paying attention to just one meal a day is enough to start you on the right track. Remember: Small steps.
Today’s challenge goes in a different direction, but it’s also a trick than can help us eat less:
Paying attention while you eat.
I don’t know about you, but I’m always watching something on my iPad or reading something whenever I eat. But, what if you had no distractions? Scary, I know, but you can do it. I know you can because I did it. It’s kind of like the first time you eat in a restaurant by yourself – It feels very weird at first, but then you sort of get used to it.
And it’s worth it. In one study published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine, researchers took obese participants through a 6-week program of mindful eating. Here’s what they found: “This study provides preliminary evidence that a eating focused mindfulness-based intervention can result in significant changes in weight, eating behavior, and psychological distress in obese individuals.”
Yup. Just paying attention can do all that.
So, take a deep breath and let’s dive in.
Your Day 3 Challenge – Mindful Eating
What You Need:
For this challenge, I want you to pick just one meal over the next few days where you’ll eat with no distractions. No phone, no iPad, no magazines or books. Just you and your food. It can be any meal you like. You don’t even have to do it alone! Here’s how to make it really worth it:
- Set the table – Like a lot of people, I usually just plop my food down on the table. But something about setting the table, even if it’s just for one person, makes it feel like a special occasion. Hey – you’re feeding your body. That’s important, right?
- Put on a little music – Just so you don’t have to listen to your own chewing. Try a spa channel on Pandora or something similar.
- Light a candle – A little cheesy? Yeah, but do it anyway.
- Put your fork down between bites.
- Take your time and really taste your food.
Do that just one time and here’s what happens to your mind and body:
- You let your body catch up with your brain. You’ve probably heard that it takes about 20 minutes before your body sends out signals that you’re satisfied. I eat so fast, I’m usually done in about 8 minutes…just think how much more I eat because I don’t slow down and let my body actually tell me what it needs.
- You can pay attention to how you feel. This comes down to emotional eating or eating when you’re not hungry, but because you’re bored, tired, lonely, etc. I do that…I only know one person who doesn’t do that and I’m sure she’s an alien.
- Engage your senses. Without any distractions you can pay attention to your food – How it smells, looks, tastes and feels inside your mouth. This sounds a little goofy, but it takes you back to the basics of eating. You’re nurturing your body and you have some time to appreciate that.
What can you learn from this experiment? Here are some things to pay attention to and to ask yourself:
- Was it hard to put away your distractions to eat a meal?
- What were you thinking about while you were eating?
- Do you think you tasted the meal differently because you were paying attention?
- Did you eat more or less or the same?
- How could you take this further? Maybe choose one meal a week to turn off the distractions, for example.
- How can you reward yourself for doing a good job?
Okay – there you go. Questions, comments, sarcastic remarks? Please email me and I’ll help you out.
Next week you get some brand new challenges. Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right?
Dalen J, Smith BW, Shelley BM, Sloan AL, Leahigh L, Begay D. Pilot study: Mindful Eating and Living (MEAL): Weight, eating behavior, and psychological outcomes associated with a mindfulness-based intervention for people with obesity. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2010;18(6):260-264. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2010.09.008
Mindful Eating 101 – A Beginner’s Guide. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mindful-eating-guide. Published January 15, 2016. Accessed May 23, 2018.