Change your life by eating mindfully

9 August 2017 by
First published: 14 June 2017

Holistic health coach Suzy Glaskie, founder of Peppermint Wellness

Upgrade your wellness regime and change your life by eating mindfully

As a health coach, a lot of people automatically assume that my diet and lifestyle are 100 per cent perfect every day. The truth is that, while I eat pretty healthily most of the time, I do sometimes struggle to follow my own advice.

One area in particular that’s always been a sticking point for me is eating mindfully. Like most people, I’m guilty of trying to juggle several things at once, hoping that one of the plates I’m spinning (excuse the pun!) won’t drop. For instance, I’ve had to train myself not to grab a newspaper when I sit down to lunch… to me, it seems perverse not to use the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. As a former PR boss, I was used to reading reams of newspapers every day of the week, so inhaling my lunch while at my desk is what I’ve been hardwired to do.

Actually, my eating while reading habit hasn’t developed just to be time-efficient with my work. It applies to reading for fun, too. I can trace it back to when I was a kid. My little brother and I would anxiously await the weekly delivery of our comics, which were strictly only to be read with a pack of salt and vinegar crisps in hand.

 I was still at it three decades later – minus the comics. One day, while reading the Twilight saga, which I adored (yes, I admit it!), I supplemented my evening, family-size bag of crisps with a Cadbury’s Flake. And, lo, a new habit was born!

 When my (very obliging) husband realised I was going through quite a number of Flakes, he started buying the multipacks. From then on, every single time I opened a Twilight book, I automatically ate one family bag of salt and vinegar crisps and a Flake… followed by a second Flake. Happily, the Twilight books were no War and Peace so I sped through them, subsequently dropping my Flake habit and returning to the standard evening crisps.

 Anyway, vampire love stories aside, the fact is that we’re so used to compressing time that we’ve downgraded eating to something to be squeezed in while we’re doing something else. In our rush-rush culture, sitting at the table to eat a meal seems like a waste of time… heaven forbid we treat ourselves to a bit of downtime to enjoy a meal!

As a result, many of us have got into the habit of consuming our food standing up, while driving, at our desk or in front of the telly. I think it’s about time we ditched this habit, so here are a few of my top tips to eating mindfully:

Set the table and sit at it
Standing or walking about is no way to eat. Clear some space at a table so you’re not eating amid clutter, lay down some cutlery and sit comfortably.

Before you eat, take a few deep breaths to relax and ground yourself
This will also shift your nervous system to a resting state where your body can digest and extract the maximum nutrition from your meal.

Eat without any distractions
That means no TV, radio, iPhone, computer or magazines/books/newspapers.

Take your time
Yes, you do have time to eat! Slow down. As I said, relaxation plays a critical role in how our bodies digest our food. If you eat a meal in stressed mode, your body will likely store most of it, which is not helpful if you’re looking to lose weight. You might also find yourself with indigestion.

Chew, chew, chew
Remember that your stomach doesn’t have teeth! Chewing is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy digestive system. Chewing food thoroughly can help keep weight down and boost the immune system. It’s recommended we chew each bite at least 50 times. Personally, I have to come right out and say it, I would find this unbearably boring. So here’s a more realistic aim – make sure there are no un-chewed pieces of food in your mouth before you swallow.

Check in with yourself
Take a pause for a few minutes and check in with your body to assess how full you are. Don’t wait until you feel uncomfortably full and are undoing your top button!

Over to you now. How and where will you eat your lunch today? Drop me a line via one of the channels below to let me know how you get on with your bid to eat mindfully!