Some call it attentive eating or mindful eating or as I like to call it, eating like a Toddler. Have you ever seen a toddler eat? Well, I have a 3 year old so I see this on a constant basis. It would take this entire blog to actually lay out how my toddler eats because if I let it, it would cause me stress on so many levels lol! So I will sum it for you. Basically, she takes a bite, then she sees a toy and we’re like remember the rule, no toys at the table. Then she takes a drink, then picks at her food a bit, takes another 2-3 bites, then starts playing with her food because hence no toys at the table, then takes a few more bites, then gets up and turns on Alexa and starts dancing, then she may return to the table for one more bite and then announces she’s finished.
Now, I’m not suggesting you dance between eat bite of food, but that might be kinda fun! What I am suggesting is that we slow down and savor our food. Dr. Marc David is the author of a book called, “The Slow down Diet”. In his book, he talks about how a lot of us hold our breath when we eat. He recommends starting out with a few breaths before eating and then also making sure we are breathing while we eat. When we slow down, it can help with digestive issues, acid reflux/GERD, and resetting your metabolism/hormones. Yes, all of this plays a role in how our bodies process the food we eat. I won’t go into all of the details here, but you can always google the scientific studies behind these concepts or get the Book!
Another part this equation is hunger levels. Again we can look at the toddlers around us to see that they only eat when they are hungry. Have you ever noticed that a toddler will eat and then be like, I’m finished only after a few bites. I know my daughter will turn down food if she’s not hungry and then when she does eat, she will eat until she is satisfied or comfortable. Just in the past year, I’ve been teaching her these words, such as savor and satisfied and she’s starting to understand those concepts. The breathing that I talked about earlier comes in handy when learning how to find your hunger levels. Breathing during our meals helps us stop and notice if we are finished with our meal. You may notice that you don’t eat as much or maybe that you eat when you’re not hungry. Susan Hyatt, Master Life Coach, uses a hunger scale and she recommends staying between a negative 2 (mildly hungry) and a positive 2 (satisfied, not overly full), when we are eating meals. When we let ourselves go over -2 in being hungry it increases the chances of not eating attentively and not breathing. When we go over a +2, it can lead to fullness and not feeling so great.
The third part of this equation is listening to your body and how it reacts to the foods we eat. What works for one person won’t work for another person because our bodies are different. For instance, when I eat fast food pizza, my body does not like it. I feel uncomfortable, full of bloat and other things. I do however, still eat pizza, I’ve noticed that the quality of my pizza makes a big difference. Pizza from Marcos is a hard no, but homemade pizza is a win for me.
There is so much more I could talk about in regards to food, how we eat and what we eat. I know there a lot of important debates going on about sugar, flour, partial hydrogenated oils and all of that. But for the purposes of this blog, I want to educate on the importance of slowing down and listening to your body, whether it is your lunch from McDonalds, eating a spaghetti dinner or enjoying a piece of apple pie. These concepts can be applied to all kinds of food. For me personally, I enjoy many foods from tacos to ice cream to salmon. I eat what my body craves and I don’t follow any type of “diet”. A “diet” is a four letter word in my book. As a coach, I help others learn these concepts and apply them in their own life to find out what works for them. There is no calorie counting and no food is off limits.
I also think it is so important to teach these concepts to young children. If you have ever met or hung out with a toddler, you would notice that they don’t have any food drama. They eat when they are hungry and stop when they are satisfied and they eat the foods they like. Why is it that as we get older this changes? As we get older, our culture and family of origins teach us things about food that may or not be true. Were you taught that you must eat everything on your plate and to not waste food? Were you taught that some foods are evil and must not be eaten? Were you taught that people need to be a certain size and if you gain weight you’re not attractive anymore? Think about these questions and see if they are true for you.
The diet industry feeds on these things that our culture has ingrained in us. Just look at all the headlines on women’s magazines about weight loss and our bodies. “The best anti-aging foods to add to your diet”, “The Keto Diet Meal Plan for Beginners”, “Potatoes are healthy and can help you lose weight (really!). It is really just a way to distract us from doing important things in our lives by focusing so much on how we look. I’ll leave that for another blog though.
My challenge for you this month is to slow down and start listening to your body. Let me know in the comments what you notice and what comes up for you. I would love to hear!
P.S. Don’t forget about my FREE virtual BARE book Club, it starts Thursday, May 30th!! Go to my website for details and to sign up! www.tashahazelton.com/new-events