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Chew for Bliss! Thoughts on Mindful Eating

You know the drill. You’re running like mad to and from work, to pick up and drop off kids, to soccer practice, to the dry cleaner, to the grocery store. Day in and day out. Life never seems to slow down for a minute, let alone give you a day off to catch up. Taking a break long enough for mindful eating at an actual meal seems like the last thing on the priority list.

The key to successfully keeping a healthy weight while still enjoying a feeling of satisfaction during meals may not take diet programs, measuring every ounce of food or living on plain salads. Research shows that mindful eating is the key, and it may be as simple as taking your time and chewing as thoroughly as possible. No extra thought or preparation required. During the last few weeks I have committed to putting everything I eat on a pretty plate, eating it as slowly as I can, and chewing each bite at least 30-50 times. What I’ve discovered during this process is really incredible.

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The truth is, it’s hard to build a habit to eat more slowly. It’s hard to build any new habit after years of eating a certain way. I can’t even count how many nights I’ve spent bingeing myself into a stupor over the past 20 years. It is easy to get carried away with a busy schedule, grab food on the run, or sit in a daze in front of the television after a long day shoveling the snacks in for comfort. Pretty soon you’ve eaten a day’s worth of calories and didn’t even notice, let alone enjoy it! I’ve totally been there.

Eating slowly and chewing more takes a lot of work and practice. To be honest, my jaw gets a little tired, I’m initially pretty bored and restless, and sometimes I feel like a 90-year old woman when I sit and chew each bite so many times. But suddenly, in the middle of the meal, I’ll get this incredible sense of bliss and peace. It’s really astonishing. My whole body relaxes, and I realize that no matter what it is I am eating or what is going on in my head, the meal is perfect and nourishing and I am enjoying it to the fullest. I’m taking the time to give my body exactly what it needs and wants, and really living in the moment. Mindful eating works!

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What you eat really isn’t the important thing. It’s how you eat it.

After this, contentment happens. I feel peaceful and relaxed and completely in tune with my body’s needs. I always leave the table feeling satisfied, without needing to stuff myself to dull my emotions or comfort eat into oblivion. A portion which used to take me perhaps 2 minutes to inhale has now taken 20 minutes. My mind is at ease and my stomach has had the time to process that it has been filled. It may take a while to build the habit, and it is usually far too easy to slip into old patterns. Nobody is perfect. Schedules will still be crazy, and it will be hard to justify taking the time for a 20 minute meal in the middle of chaos. I still binge occasionally, and I know that comfort eating will still lure me in when things get stressful. But this trick is totally worth it. Eat slowly, chew a bunch, and wait till the satisfaction sets in!

What are your tricks to eating mindfully and feeling satisfied?

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