Mindful Choices

Jaclyn Kreifels RD, LMNT

February gives us time to reflect on all the relationships in our life; in those, do you consider your relationship with food?  Mindful eating is a concept to help us become fully aware of our eating patterns, relationship with food, and triggers for why we eat.  The primary focus of mindful eating helps us to choose nutritious and enjoyable food, select foods with nourishment and recognize our personal hunger and satiety cues.   This approach can assist individuals in achieving a favorable intake for the purpose of vital health and regulating body weight.  It can also create a sense of empowerment to make the best selections for personal interest.

When utilizing mindful eating to create our food selections, we can achieve our ideal health and create a routine that supports our goals.  Instead of thinking about different diet strategies (good food/bad food, restrictive diets or limiting diets), mindful eating tunes into our internal cues and provides a response to our personal body needs.  To initiate mindful eating, limit distractions while eating so you truly enjoy your food and flavors.  This can likewise increase the satiety level from our food.  Paying attention to what we eat, in the present moment, can enhance our relationship with food and provide many benefits.  Actually, research indicates that practicing the mindfulness concept, can decrease stress levels and depression, support weight loss, omit chronic pain and increase quality of life.

Mindful eating can encourage us to change old habits, and not only create, but adhere to healthy eating decisions.  Some thoughts to keep in mind when incorporating healthy eating include “Why do I eat?”, “How much do I eat?” and “Where does the energy go?” Which can in turn, help us to select healthy, balanced eating choices.  How does your food make you feel?  And how do you want to feel?  Exploring the triggers that control our nutritional habits can help us understand our process of eating, and be eye-opening.  A food journal can be beneficial to answer some of these same triggers, and of course, it’s easier to write down “apple” instead of “donut”. 

Many times, our consumption habits that are guilty for our overeating, are actually unconscious behaviors that have been in place for years; and we don’t even realize it.  The mindfulness process can create awareness of what we’re doing, and what we desire to change.  Once you’re aware of your habits, change can become an action.  Being mindful of our daily routine can help us break out of the ineffective, habitual patterns, and provide an opportunity for new, healthy behaviors.