Being Mindful- 5 Tips To Making More Mindful Food Decisions

Mindful-eating

My wife made some of the best cookies last week. Chocolate mint truffle mmmmm! She made them by crumbling oreos, mixing them with cream cheese, mint extract, and drizzled with melted chocolate. I’m pretty certain there are little pieces of rainbow mixed in too, I mean they are that delicious.

Seriously, I had 5 of them and now my mouth is watering. You see, sweets are a bit of a hang up for me. I’ve had a hard time finding anything loaded with sugar that I don’t like. Admittedly I probably eat a few more sweets than I should (especially this time of year), but I do it fully knowing that it may not support my goals. As a result I carry a bit more body fat than I want, but that comes with the territory.

The moral of that little story is that I was mindful about the number of cookies I ate. I knowingly overate, and I fully accept the consequences of such actions.

A lot of people though are under the misguided assumption that this little cheat here and that little cheat there doesn’t matter. Worse yet, they may not realize how much they are actually eating during those times, yet continue to be disappointed when they aren’t achieving the goals they want for themselves.

Being mindful is slowing down, being conscious about the food decisions we make, and being present when we are eating. If we are constantly in a rush getting little Johnny to Boy Scouts, then we may think it’s normal to rush through a drive thru to grab something while en route.

When in fact it only serves to promote distracted eating, the opposite of mindful eating. While it may not kill you immediately, the culmination of years of distracted eating can have a pretty detrimental effect on your health and longevity.

It is only natural that we are short on time occasionally and make less than desirable food decisions. However, if we can limit that to about 20% or less of the time you should still be able to reach your goals.

We are all busy and have a lot going on, I get it, but that doesn’t mean we should give up on reaching the goals we’ve set for ourselves. Evenings are often times overloaded so much so that we leave ourselves little time to make a good healthy meal. Hopefully these tips can help you be more mindful.

Weekly Meal Plan Handout

  1. Scheduled Meal Time With Family/Friends- If you have a family, on the nights you don’t have activities, be sure and have a dedicated meal together. Not only can you make more mindful selections, but you get the benefit of talking about and modeling healthy behaviors for your kids or others at the dinner table. If you don’t have an open night or two each week then you may have some other issues of balance that need to be addressed.
  2. Don’t Eat in the Car– I mean this is pretty self explanatory, but eating while driving is not only dangerous, but about the worst form of distracted eating I can think of. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, we’ve all done it, but it should be something that is a rarity, if ever.
  3. Write a Menu/Grocery List– Having a plan each week is invaluable, as is the grocery list. You may change the menu, but having that preset meal and the ingredients in your fridge is great on busy nights. Double score if it’s already prepared, which leads me to my next point.
  4. Prepared Meals- Not like the ones you buy in the grocery, but ones you have actually prepared ahead of time. When nights are jammed, if you have a quick option that you can microwave that supports your goals that’s a big win. It does take a bit of prior planning and blocking the time to prepare these though.
  5. Be Intentional- Take a minute or two to pray or meditate before you eat. During that time you can look at your meal think about ways to improve it or add healthier options for the next time. Just taking that quick second to relax before we chow can be helpful.

Add one or a few of these to your week and your awesomeness quotient will go up 76%, or you’ll at least feel a little less rushed and a little more mindful.

 

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Find Your Own Meal Frequency

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There has been a debate raging in the fitness industry for a long time over how often we should eat.  And I’m here to tell you that it really makes no difference.

So called experts will tell you that you must eat 6 times a day because it will keep your metabolism going all day long, and help you burn more fat.  It seems legit, and many have gotten great results that way, but as they say there are many ways to skin a cat.

Those same experts are probably attempting to sell you a solution or product that helps you achieve your goals with that approach.  While there is nothing inherently wrong with that, just don’t be fooled into thinking it’s the only way you can find success.

As I mentioned here calories are the largest key to fat loss.  How those calories are broken down throughout the day could be in 6 meals, 4 meals 2 snacks, or any other variation that fits your lifestyle.  That means we need to use our head and figure out what works based on our work schedule, family commitments, and the many other obligations that we face day to day.  And realize that will look different for each one of us.

It may be easier to just buy the 6 meal program that has a lot of nice “Before and After” photos of the results of others.  You know the one where the guy looks like death in the first photo and in the second is in great shape, overly tan, and smiley.

The reason these types of program work so well a lot of time,s is because we can just plug and chug so to speak.  We go and stock up on the foods the program tells us to buy, we follow the meal plans, and completely stop eating all the foods we like and enjoy.

For the first few weeks we are pumped about the program and adherence comes pretty easy.  We don’t mind skipping the ice cream for a pile of vegetables, and the fries are foregone for carrot sticks.  You’ve probably even made some pretty good progress and lost some body fat.

However, once the shiny new car smell wears off we start to crave the foods we cut out, it’s a huge burden to take a break every 2 hours to make sure we eat, and we start to feel like we’ve failed if we miss meals.

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Therein lies the rub.  We tend to be overly dogmatic in our approach to applying that program without taking into account our lifestyle.

While executing those programs may have gotten us some results ,you know what will happen when the 12 week program comes to an end and we start back on a steady diet of beer and chicken wings.  If the program hasn’t truly taught us how to make long term realistic changes, then we are right back at square one.

If the 6 meal approach works for you great go for it.  However you can be just as successful with a one meal a day approach if that better suits your needs, because at the end of the day it is total calories that count.  Of course I’d remiss if I didn’t mention that with certain medical conditions you may need to find an approach that best addresses those needs as well, but even then we still need to keep in mind what works for us.

A healthy nutrition plan does not mean that your are destined to a life of dull, tasteless food.  In fact I’d go so far as to say a healthy nutrition plan involves a little ice cream (our whatever your guilty pleasure of choice) from time to time.  Find new and tasty ways to season and spice different foods for variety, and be sure to try new foods as well.

Much of our culture and family events revolve around food, and as long as we make conscious decisions about how much and when we choose to indulge, you shouldn’t feel like you are an outcast due to trying to stick to some unrealistic meal plan.

H20: 2 Reasons Water Helps You Be More Awesome

water_photo_shutterstock_17413012Simple, yes.  Understated?  Absolutely!  The importance of being hydrated that is…and it is one of the variables I have often overlooked when working with people.  I think it’s because it’s so simple or maybe it has been such a part of what I do for so long.

I’ll bet if I were to take a poll of how many people were actually hydrated properly, it would be far less than 50%.  While I could look up some stats on google about how many of us aren’t hydrated properly, that would probably only serve to distract me (seriously I’d be reading buzzfeed about 10 animals that are smarter than I am or some crap like that in no time).

There are a ton of reasons you need to drink more of the clear stuff, and I’m referring to water here… not vodka or any of the other tasty clear liquids that exist.  But there are a few reasons that water doesn’t get much press… so hopefully this highlights the importance for you.

With regard to strategies on how to incorporate more into your day, don’t complicate it, get a nice water bottle and don’t ever plan to be without it.

As for why you should drink more water check it out.

1) Liquid Calories (usually) = Crap calories.  When you drink more water hopefully that means you have less of a chance of sucking down calories from things like soda, fruit juice, or whatever other liquid concoction you’ve decided you can’t live without.

Exception –Protein shakes pretty much help solve all the world’s problems so they don’t fall in the category of crap calories.

Calories still count when it comes to liquid and, in my opinion, has little to no place in a fat loss plan, or otherwise healthy eating plan.  Drinking calories can sabotage a fat loss plan in a heartbeat, and provide next to nothing in terms of nutritional benefit.

As for “recovery drinks” Gatorade and the like, yep same deal, CRAP.  Most of us aren’t doing enough training to warrant them.  These drinks were designed for athletes training multiple hours a day, not the general public.

Drink mostly water, coffee for me is a must as it is for many others I’m sure, and that’s cool too.  Occasionally I’ll have a coke zero, diet Sunkist, or when I’m feeling extra crazy a regular coke.  However, generally I drink water 80% of the time and you should too.

2) Your body is one big chemical reaction.  And if you remember from high school chemistry that time when the kid next to you singed off his eyebrows with the Bunsen burner….nevermind different story.

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In all seriousness those chemical reactions take place in water and when you don’t have enough in your body it could impair certain functions.

Taking a poop being one of them.  Yep I just used the word poop (the sixth grader in me still laughs at that word), but staying hydrated helps remove waste from the body, luckily I’ve never experienced being constipated but I’m certain it’s not fun.

Not only will we spend less time in the bathroom by drinking more water, but there are quite a few other processes being hydrated improves.  It helps to regulate temperature, lubricate your joints, and helps with our respiratory system.

If you have cranky joints then instead of reaching for the aleve/ibuprofen maybe check how much water you drink, as that doesn’t cost anything and doesn’t have the potential to make your stomach bleed with prolonged use.

Really water is just a big deal and you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of its impact on our health.  Aside from the suggestion above to buy a water bottle, find other ways to drink more of it.

Chug a 16 ounce glass each morning, drink it at meals, hell drink it directly out of the faucet when showering, ok that might be a bit weird, point being just drink more of it.  I think you’ll feel better as a result.

As for how much you need to drink start with shooting for 64 ounces, that old 8- 8 ounce glasses will work for a start.  But in all reality there is no “perfect” amount for everyone.  It may be as simple as doubling how much you currently drink, or even more basic, just figuring out how much you drink on average by tracking it.

Cheers!