Our hectic daily schedules often make it challenging to focus on mindful eating. Most times we often fill our belly with the quickest, easiest options at our disposal. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, maintain your current weight or simply practice mindful eating, it’s important to bring more consciousness to your eating habits. It’s in your best interest to pause before mindlessly reaching for that bowl of yogurt or the beef jerky. This article will consider 4 revealing questions that will help you to take control of your eating habits. These are the questions you can ask yourself before you put anything in your mouth that will most definitely slow you down and consider what you are doing!
1. Am I hungry?
This may seem like a pointless question at first because you’re eating — so you must be hungry, right? Wrong. The aim of this question is to help you separate cravings from real hunger. People eat for several other reasons including boredom (nothing to do), depression (chocolate to ease up sadness), happiness (to celebrate a promotion), or cravings. It’s important to pinpoint the exact reason why you’re eating to identify issues related to emotional eating. If you ate recently, then you’re not truly hungry, you could be eating because you are craving something specific or you ate something that did not meet your nutritional needs. The body is designed to tell you when you need food and that’s why you should eat when you’re hungry. It’s critical not to deprive your body of the nourishment it needs. Waiting for too long to eat to the point where your hands start shaking or stomach starts growling put you in a position of binge eating at the next opportunity of food. And if you find yourself craving some unhealthy options, it is recommended that you consider having a big glass of water. This might just be exactly what you need to flush away that unhealthy desire.
This plays into the importance of planning. Planning is key. I strongly recommend you plan to eat two to three key meals a day but also plan your snacks, two to three a day as well. Ensure they are healthy, nutritious, and have enough fat in them to keep you from getting hungry (remember, fat is not the villain here).
2. What message and instructions am I sending to my body by eating this food?
Eating’s fun! There’s no doubt about it. We take photos of our food, plan dates to special restaurants and invite friends and families to our homes to enjoy dinner with us. Yes, food is a huge fun factor in our lives. However, before you take that next bite, think about the food you’re going to eat and its effect on your body. When you treat your body right, it loves you right back. Yes, food is meant to fuel and nourish our bodies; however, that is an understatement about the importance of food. Food gives our body instructions. It’s so much more than just fuel. Every time you eat something you are sending a message to your genetic coding telling it what to do. Food is more about genetic expression and, it’s about and improving our overall health and well-being. When you feed on junk, you’re essentially feeding your body with crap. Your body will lack the energy it needs to carry out basic functions and can affect your health and well-being. To look and feel your best, it’s important to eat healthy.
Another way of asking this question is to say “is this food going to meet my nutritional requirements?” Whatever it is you decide to eat should provide the vitamins and minerals needed by the body to function optimally. For instance, every meal should have the right balance of fat, protein and high-nutrient carbohydrates (leafy greens are the best choice for the high nutrient carb).
3. Is eating this food an expression of who I want to be?
We must eat to live; your diet should be balanced and in tune with your desired goals. Think of it this way; each meal is a piece of your daily food puzzle and each meal provides an opportunity to fill up on what your body is lacking. If you miss these opportunities you will find yourself craving and may indulge on incorrect foods. To take this a step further, you might even look at this as your soft-philosophy in life. We all have a “way of being” in our world. When you reach for that piece of pumpkin pie, ask yourself if it is truly who you want to be in this world. Will eating this help you become the fully realized healthy person you want to be.
4. How will I feel after I eat this?
It is also critical to consider how you will feel after eating a meal both physically and emotionally. Will you feel angry, guilty, or annoyed with yourself? Will you feel bloated? A stomachache? Will the food keep you awake all night? Cranky? Giving attention to how the food makes you feel will help you to identify food allergies and also figure out what triggers overeating. Since you can choose your foods based on how you want to feel, you can decide whether or not the end result of that food is WORTH IT. Ask yourself ‘What will I gain from eating this when after a few minutes the flavor will be gone and I’ll just be left with the chemicals, calories, cramps and guilty feelings?
Bottom line… These four questions should help you to make smarter food choices that will help your body perform at its optimal best. Asking yourself these vital questions before you eat will hopefully give you a chance to think about what you’re about to eat, thereby helping you to practice mindful eating.
Christopher Lawrence is a Co-Founder of the Healthy Transformations program with Dr. Mike Breen. He is also the Chief Value Officer and Founder of Change My Life Coaching and Co-Founder of Change My Business Coaching — a fast growing whole-life, leadership and business coaching company, and the only one of it’s kind. He is also the author of “Go Beyond Passion: Discover Your Dream Job”. Christopher is a Certified Master Coach Practitioner (CMCP), trainer and facilitator, and a passionate public speaker that truly cares about the success of each and every single person he comes into contact with. You can reach him at Christopher@ChangeMyLifeCoaching.ca.