Enough already! I’ve been inhaling sweets, treats and loads of wine for way too many months now. It’s time for a detox!
This year, the holiday excess has lasted well into January – what with New Year’s eve being in the middle of the week, a trip to see friends in Manhattan after that, and then the bitter cold deep freeze that extended the kids’ winter break two extra days. Now the excuses have run out and I need to get busy cutting back.
But my husband is working out of town all week (yep, more excuses!) and I decided that single parenting and extreme detoxing do not go hand in hand. So instead, I’m having a week of mindful eating. I’ll kick into a more restricted detox diet next week, where I attempt to live without caffeine (we’ll see!), sugar, dairy and all that other good stuff.
What is mindful eating?
To eat mindfully means to slow down. Pay attention to what you are eating. Look at it. Chew it slowly. Taste it. Appreciate it. It’s about having a relationship with your food instead of just inhaling it. Mindful eating is not about dieting although it may indeed help you to eat less. Mindful eating is not the same as meditating although it may help you to feel more relaxed. At its core, mindful eating is about being in the present moment with the food you eat so that you will appreciate it and enjoy it to its full extent.
Mindful eating tips
- Sit down – It’s a lot harder to eat mindfully when you are standing up or eating on the run.
- Use a plate – Serve yourself a portion of food and stick to it, instead of eating straight out of the carton or bag.
- Try chopsticks – Eating with chopsticks or smaller utensils slows you down.
- Avoid multi-tasking – Just focus on eating. Don’t read, work or talk while you eat (I know, that’s almost impossible for me too).
- Spend time chewing – Some recommend chewing each bite 25 times but if that seems too much, just chew more than you usually do.
- Put down your fork – Placing your fork on the table after a bite helps you be more mindful of when you take the next one.
- Drink water – Take a sip of good old H2O in between bites. Not only is it good for you but will help you slow down your food intake.
- Plan your meals – Knowing what you are going to eat next helps to reduce mindless grabbing from the snack cabinet.
How it works for me
A big part of mindful eating for me it to pay attention to my habits and my cravings. I have a tendency to eat without thinking….to snack while packing the kids’ lunches, to munch while making dinner and to grab treats out of the cupboard whenever I feel the slightest craving for something. And I have wicked cravings. Especially for salt and sweets (and sometimes for brussels sprouts, but I’m not worried about that).
Here’s how I’m working on being mindful this week:
- Caffeine – I’m really enjoy that first cup and then thinking twice about having a second. If I’m tired in the afternoon, I try a few jumping jacks to rev up my energy. If I’m cold, a cup of herbal tea is perfect. If I’m thirsty, water will do.
- Sugar – No more Christmas cookies. No more candy. If I need something sweet, I’m trying to stick to Stonyfield flavored yogurt, dried fruits (dates are my fav!) or chocolate soy butter on a banana. I’m paying close attention to my sweet cravings because I know that much of the time it’s just habit kicking in….and I totally get the value of breaking habits.
- Salty Foods – Salt cravings are the worst. I feel like I just have to have something salty or I will die. I’m pretty sure that when I’m craving salt, it means I’m thirsty but drinking water doesn’t necessarily make the craving go away. To appease my senses, I allow myself a small handful of nuts – almonds, cashews or whatever I’ve got. I also love to sprinkle a handful of sunflower seeds on salads or roasted veggies. Yum!
- Processed foods – Doing my best to stay far away from packaged foods of all types.
- Alcohol – Aside from one work party this week, I’m steering clear of the swill. If I feel like a need a “reward” after a long day, I’ll treat myself to some TV.
- Snacking – I’m working hard to avoid those mindless snacking moments. It’s hard!
Next week, my husband and I will attempt to venture into a more restricted detox diet to really cleanse out our systems. In the past we have followed the Whole Living Challenge but now that the magazine has folded, we don’t have a specific plan to follow. I’ll dig out my recipes from year’s past and try out some new ones from Bon Appetit’s Food Lover’s Cleanse. We may be eating less but we will be eating well!
Are you doing any type of detox this January or do you practice mindful eating? I’d love to hear how it works for you!
(Image credit: Chiat’s Run via flickr cc)