Eating mindfully is not something that comes naturally to me, but it’s a process that I’m slowly working through to help me lead a healthier lifestyle.
One of the best things about being a food blogger is that it gives me a reason to constantly try new restaurants and new recipes. Conversely, this is one of the downsides of being a food blogger too. My life revolves around cooking, baking, and looking for new restaurants to try.
Until 2014, this wasn’t really a problem. As a teacher, I was in constant motion, moving around my classroom and leading groups of children up and down the long hallways of the school. I was also a runner (though I hated it) so that helped too. Then I got a different job, as a behavior analyst. These days, I spend my days either sitting in meetings, sitting in classrooms talking to teachers, or sitting in my car, shuttling myself from one place to another (I drive hundreds of miles a month for my job).
It didn’t take long for my weight to creep up once my habits changed, and it didn’t take much for me to figure out what happened. I changed my activity levels but I didn’t change my eating habits. It’s problematic. I thought about going Paleo, but ultimately I decided that it wouldn’t work for me because (a) my blog readers don’t come here for Paleo recipes; and (b) I just don’t think I could do it. Then I realized something: I’m a member of the clean plate club. I can match my husband, who is 8 inches taller than me, bite for bite. Ummmm, this might explain a lot.
I am not overweight, and I don’t have a problem with the way I look. That’s not what this is about. What it’s about, though, is realizing that such a rapid weight gain is not healthy and that if I continue at this rate I will be overweight and will be setting myself up for health problems. Something had to change.
A couple of months ago I ran across a book called How to Have Your Cake and Your Skinny Jeans Too by Josie Spinardi. In the book, Spinardi talks about the deprivation mentality; that is, when you spend your life dieting, when you stop dieting (or if you accidentally “slip up” and eat something that you’ve been avoiding on your diet) then you are very likely to binge on those forbidden foods. Now, this didn’t apply to me…I’ve never believed in deprivation and have always allowed myself to eat the things that I wanted to eat in moderation. (Sorry for the dark photo…it’s a screen shot from my Kindle)
No, my problem is that I’ve kind of slipped out of the “moderation” mindset and just started eating as much of whatever as I wanted, whenever I wanted. The book talks about eating mindfully…stopping to think about what you are eating, taste what you are eating, and take note of how it makes you feel. When you are no longer hungry, you stop eating. What? That’s awfully simple. You eat whatever you want, till you aren’t hungry, and if you aren’t depriving yourself then you probably aren’t going to feel the need to binge on typically “forbidden” foods.
After 3 weeks of eating this way, I’ve lost 5 pounds. Eating mindfully is still a process. Sometimes food just tastes so good that I don’t want to stop eating it. Sometimes I know that this is going to happen, so I decide ahead of time how much I’m going to eat (half of a sandwich, for example). After I’ve eaten that much, I really think about whether I want to eat more because I’m still hungry or because I just want to keep eating. If it’s just because I want to keep eating, the other half of the sandwich becomes the next day’s lunch. No need to pack another lunch. Eating mindfully is a lunch-packing WIN!
I love fruits and vegetables, so eating “healthy foods” is not the problem for me. Eating junk food is also not the problem, per se. It’s eating too much of the junk food – even the homemade junk food, which most of mine is, that’s the problem. With this method, I still get to eat whatever I want…just less of it. It’s a win-win. I highly recommend Spinardi’s book (which I purchased for myself and did not receive any compensation to endorse)! (This post does, however, contain an affiliate link for her book. This means that if you click that link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. The cost to you will not be affected. For more information, please see my disclosures. Thank you for supporting my blog!)