The Foodie Dietitian Blog

Mindful Monday: How Mindful Eating Can Help You Fall In Love With Food

Hey guys! I’m flying back from Barcelona today back home to Boston and am sad for the adventure to end but so grateful for the experiences – can’t wait to share them all with you! Until then, I’ve got my dear friend Rachael on the blog today. Rachael and I were roommates at Blog Brûlée last year and we immediately bonded – she’s super fun, kind-hearted, and compassionate – we both speak the same language when it comes to our passions, interests, and the whole mindfulness thing. We both started our businesses around the same time so it’s been fun supporting each other along the way. She’s one of my favorite bloggers – she makes AMAZING vegan recipes – and writes thoughtful posts about mindfulness and mindful eating. Big hugs to Rachael for sharing this thought-provoking post with us today!

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Hi there! I’m Rachael Hartley, a private practice dietitian and food/wellness blogger based out of Columbia, SC. On my blog, Avocado A Day, I share whole food recipes and inspiration for a happy and healthy life!

I am so excited to guest post here on TFD. Kara and I met as roommates at Blog Brulee. After following her blog a few months, I was happy to learn she was as compassionate, wise and funny in person as she is on her blog! We quickly bonded over yoga, being newbies at the whole private practice/blogging gig, and a passionate love of food!

How Mindful Eating Can Help You Fall In Love With Food via @RHartleyRD | karalydon.com

Born to two foodies, I had no choice but to grow up as one myself. As far back as I can remember, my parents had me in the kitchen, teaching me about our cultural background through family recipes and encouraging me to try new cuisines. Yes, I was that weird kid who ate sushi in elementary school. Even in my teenage years when I struggled with low body confidence and had a pretty unhealthy relationship with food, it was my love of all things delicious that kept me from falling too far into the world of fad diets.

A few months ago, while working with a client on meal planning strategies, I asked her to list her favorite meals to use as an example. She replied “Honestly? I don’t know. I try not to eat food I love because I know I’ll eat too much.” Her words broke my heart, yet I understood where she was coming from.

Who hasn’t overeaten or binged on a food that they love, only to feel guilty and bloated as a result. We’re taught deprivation is the key to achieving that elusive “ideal weight,” and it’s a whole lot easier to restrict if you don’t like what you’re eating in the first place! There’s so much emphasis on food these days – what to eat to lose weight, how to prevent chronic disease, what’s best for the environment, how to avoid toxins, which diet is best. It’s easy to forget that eating is one of life’s central pleasures!

Not only that, but enjoying what you eat can actually help you achieve your health and wellness goals. That’s because deprivation leads to overeating and binging, not pleasure. Think of the last time you deprived yourself of food you truly loved. What finally did you in? Was it a rich, dense and chocolaty slice of cake fresh from a local bakery…or was it a box of stale chocolate chip cookies? Let’s be honest here. A deprived body is not a distinguishing body!

Think back to your earliest and happiest memories about food, from a time before eating was marred by thoughts of dieting. What were some of your happiest memories? For me, it was discovering this magical thing called a cheese plate on a childhood trip to France. Maybe for you it was craving Christmas cookies with your grandma, grilling hot dogs and s’mores at camp or picking wild blackberries off the vine in your backyard. Whatever it was, think back and remember the joy you felt in that moment, eating something not because you should eat it but because you wanted to eat it. You were fully experiencing food without guilt or shame. Wouldn’t you love to have more of those moments in life?

After years of dieting and deprivation, maybe you’ve lost touch with the pleasure of eating. It’s not too late to rediscover it. This is where mindful eating comes in. By slowing down and fully experiencing your food, you will not enjoy food more, but with practice, you’ll be able to easily identify that elusive satisfaction point, the point in eating where you feel satisfied and each successive bite is slightly less pleasurable than the previous bite.

Before you eat, take a moment to examine how you feel and express gratitude for your food. As you eat, engage all 6 senses – sight as you notice the appearance, smell as you breathe in the aromas, the touch and mouthfeel of the food as it hits your tongue, the layers of taste, the sound it makes as you chew. It helps to imagine you’re wine tasting. Slow down, putting down your fork between each bite. As you eat, pay special attention to how much pleasure you’re getting from the food.

If you’ve struggled with dieting and restriction, you may notice negative emotions like guilt start to pop up along with the positive feelings. That’s normal, and totally okay. Acknowledge those feelings, then move on.

Remember, today is your last chance to experience today. As part of this amazing day you were gifted, you have multiple opportunities to experience the joy of eating – don’t waste that!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this! Have you ever found yourself avoiding food that you love? What foods bring you the most pleasure and joy? What are some of your happiest food memories? Feel free to share in the comments below!

I’m a nutrition coach and yoga teacher helping people to learn to love food again. I love cooking, taking pictures of my food and traveling around the world. Follow my blog for delicious, seasonal vegetarian recipes and simple strategies to bring more yoga and mindfulness into your life. And check out my e-book to learn how to improve your health through nutrition and yoga. Show me what deliciousness you make! Tag me @karalydonRD on Instagram.

Comments

  1. Lovely post Rachel. I think the part of eating mindfully that strikes people as weird are the “strange” behaviors (putting fork down between bites, savoring the aroma of food before even taking one bite) that are usually recommended for mindful eating. And yet, when practiced consciously, they work. And with repetition can become more “normal” feeling for most people. We are all so in a rush most of the time that looking at our food, smelling our food and slowing down to taste our food have become forgotten. Hence, more is eaten in order to satisfy our innate craving for gustatory enjoyment.

    • Thank you Kit! You make such a great point about how odd mindful eating can feel at first. When I teach mindful eating in groups, I sometimes catch myself giggling a bit, because it seems so odd to verbalize what you’re normally doing internally. But as you mentioned, it becomes normal with practice. Bonus points for using “gustatory,” one of my favorite words :)

  2. SO MUCH THIS –> “A deprived body is not a distinguishing body!”

  3. Just reading what your client told you made me sad, too. It has really gotten to the point where people actively avoid eating foods they enjoy at that experience less pleasure – only to loose weight?! I truly hope that one day the number of dietitians/nutritionists/any other kind of health professional influencing the media, too, that recommend mindful or intuitive (= normal) eating will outweigh those who preach restriction.

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