Ten Tips to Help You Enjoy Your Food
1. Have a one to ten scale to make sure you are hungry. Check in with your body and discern how hungry you are on a scale of one to ten-one being starving or so hungry that you no longer feel it and ten being stuffed to the point you can’t even look at food. Eat when you are somewhere around a 3-5 on that scale. If there is a day you just don’t feel like eating, then don’t. You’ll live (this is about overeating, not anorexia!). Our bodies have a natural cycle that if we are listening, it will have about 2-3 days over a period of around 48 days that it wants a rest from food. So if you feel it, respect it but it shouldn’t be a regular habit. Don’t let yourself get to one on the scale as this will just encourage overeating and can lead to things like ulcers and poor digestion. Signs your body is hungry include gurgling in the stomach. Symptoms of low blood sugar like blurry vision, dizziness, etc is going too long without food.
2. Use a bowl that is the size of a ball you could hold in your cupped hands. Cup your hands together and imagine a ball with that diameter-that’s your portion size. Buy yourself a beautiful bowl that you love that is about the size that would hold that amount of food. You can always go back for seconds but get used to what is a reasonable amount of food to eat at a sitting.
3. Before you eat, no matter what it is, take three deep breaths. Your belly must move outward on the inhale for this to happen. Deep means in the body not sucked up into the chest and not a big effort-just deep and relaxed.
4. Before you eat, look at your food (even a Big Mac if you call that food)! Do this as you are taking your three deep breaths. You may even want to give thanks for the farmers who have grown it (hopefully it resembles something like real food that someone would grow but for now, just do it without judging yourself. There are plenty of other judgmental people who can do that for you). My daughter and I used to say this blessing when she was little - May all be fed, May all be healed, and may all be loved. And may we be grateful for what we have.
5. Decide to enjoy whatever you are eating, even if you think it’s not good for you. Being conflicted about your choices is almost as bad as making poor choices. If you are going to eat whatever it is that you think you shouldn’t, please at least enjoy it without guilt. I once had a client that thought if she had a piece of cake, she ruined her diet. This is a horribly restricted way to live. Of course, you can have even a weekly piece of cake and still loose weight. (Sign up for my blog for those tips - coming soon!)
6. Eat in a pleasant setting. Do you know how the French villagers eat? There is a story about an archeologist who travelled to a dig in the French countryside. Every lunch the workers would disappear for two hours. She got fed up with the delay in work and ordered them to eat on site. The next day a van pulled up with tables and chairs and a tablecloth and a banquet was laid out with all the trimmings. Two hours later, they resumed work! Even if you are in your car in a parking lot at a drive thru, do something to acknowledge that you are taking time to nourish yourself as best you can in that moment. A plastic flower in the glove compartment that you bring out perhaps? Play some quiet, relaxing music (please don’t listen to or watch the new while eating). Drive to a nearby park instead if you can. Many restaurants are too noisy with irritating music to be helpful for digestion. If you know of pleasant quiet restaurants in town, please share!
7. Chew each mouthful until it is liquid. This aids in digestion and slows you down so your gut has time to tell your noggin that you are full. The gut needs enough room to do it's washing machine motion with your food. If you are full to the brim, aso to speak, this just ain't happening too well.
8. Describe the flavors you are tasting to yourself. Many people eat without really tasting. I have seen this a lot with people who are overweight and also underweight. Learn to discern, like a chef does, what tastes are in the food. Is it sweet, salty, sour, pungent , bitter and/or astringent. Perhaps you can even figure out ingredients such as spices and herbs that were used. If you made the food yourself, taste for a balance of all six tastes. Is it there? Is one missing? How could you introduce that flavor into the dish for balance (I will address this in am upcoming post so sign up if you are curious!). I love to have someone else cook for me. Particularly if it’s something I’m unfamiliar with. Become a taste detective and have an educated palate like a chef.
9. Put your utensil down between bites. There is nothing more disappointing for a cook who has spent time, love and energy in cooking a meal, than to have someone shovel the food into their face like a ravenous dog. Respect the process of having an enjoyable meal. This is a time to be with yourself and possibly your friends or family in a nurturing, meaningful way. BE THERE.
10. Take a breath with the belly moving outward after each bite. If you are not aware of your breathing, you are not in your body. Period. All day long. Period. You want your nervous system to be in sympathetic mode for digestion, not fight or flight. If the abdomen is held tight and your belly is not moving, you will not digest or absorb nutrients as well as you could.
If you liked these tips, sign up for my blog, or register for my upcoming talk Ayurvedic Life Hacks on Saturday, June 18th, 1-3pm at www.yogaestlondon.ca (see website for directions). For more info on the class visit workshops on this site.
Upcoming Blog Posts:
Why we overeat: The Six Tastes to the Rescue!
Becoming a Taste Detective: Educate your palate like a Chef!