How to eat consciously
How can we eat consciously and think more like a guinea pigs?
Here’s a fun fact about my childhood- I loved Guinea pigs, I think I had 7 at one point, plus a big lopped ear bunny named Dusky. These little furry creatures were my babies and my friends, I took so much pride in looking after them. My Mum called it the petting zoo at the bottom of the garden. Like the Guinea Pigs, I am also a plant based eater and they only ever ate when they needed too, albeit grazers, and fresh vegetables were there favourite things but they were always in pretty great shape.
Humans are a little different as we tend to overeat quite easily, especially when you’re indulging in an unusually good meal. It’s also easy because there are many factors that cause us to overeat, including stress and eating too fast—both of which we likely experience or do on an almost daily basis.
Fortunately, there are many tactics you can use to stop overeating once and for all. Use these tips to get your eating on track so you can feel fueled and satisfied instead of full and guilty.
If you’re surrounded by unhealthy food all the time, it can be easy to eat all day long, whether or not you are hungry. Here’s one way to avoid this temptation: Think about how you’ll feel after you eat too much—like those times when you know you’re full, but there’s still food on your plate.
A similarly powerful tactic is thinking about how you’ll feel if you don’t eat the food. In almost every case you feel proud, happy and more satisfied than if you’d indulged unnecessarily.
TRY THIS: Before you grab the doughnut from your office kitchen—especially if you’ve already had a full breakfast—think to yourself: How will I feel when I finish this? Better yet: How will I feel if I walk away right now? Make this a habit, doing it every time you reach for an unnecessary snack; sometimes you’ll want to indulge and that’s okay. But you may find that you say “no” a lot more often than you say “yes.”
It takes time for your stomach to tell your mind that you’re full because the process of feeling satiated takes time.
Your body is so smart it send signals from your gut to your brain, it can take anywhere from five to 20 minutes, which is why it’s important to eat more slowly. Eating too fast is a surefire way to overeat because we get this cue well after we’ve already eaten too much. I always tell my husband to wait at least 20 minutes before asking “What’s for dessert?”
TRY THIS: The next time you eat, set a timer for 20 minutes and see how long it takes you to feel full, paying close attention to the cues your body is sending you. This will give you an approximation of how long it takes your body to feel full, which you can use to stop overeating in the future. Continue eating slowly until you notice that “I’m full” feeling.
In our fast-paced world, we’re often eating breakfast on the go, rushing through lunch at our desk, and half-heartedly noshing on dinner while watching our favorites shows. In all of these situations, your focus isn’t on the food you’re eating. It’s on driving, working or watching television, which can lead to overeating.
When you’re not paying attention to your body, it’s easy to miss the “I’m hungry” cue—just like when you eat too fast.
Stop Once and For All: Make a rule to eat at least one meal a day without doing anything else. Notice the difference in recognizing your ‘feeling full’ cues and how satisfied you are. Slowly increase this to two meals each day and eventually to all three.
Get Your Stress Under Control
It seems as though there’s always something to stress us out, whether it’s a meeting at work or a family issue. This stress not only wreaks havoc on your body physically, causing everything from chronic high blood pressure and diarrhea, to headaches, chest pain and more, it’s causing you to overeat.
When stressed, your body releases cortisol, which also happens to increase appetite. Whether you’re hungry or not, your body is craving food, and to quell that “hunger” you eat. In many cases, you end up eating high-fat, sugary foods, making the overeating even worse. Increased levels of cortisol oftens causes weight gain in women especially around the abdomen area.
TRY THIS: If you can’t reduce the amount of stress in your life right now, the next step is to recognize the potential for overeating and stop it before it starts. When stressed, rely on portioning your food, and when you go out to eat, get half of your meal put in a box for later before you even start eating. If you’re hungry for a snack, when you normally aren’t, check in with yourself: Is this stress or am I really hungry?
Give Yourself Time
How many times have you looked down at your plate, knowing that you’re full, and finished it anyway? When you’re done, you feel full and mad at yourself: Why did I eat the rest of that? I didn’t need it and now I feel like crap. It’s hard to resist food in the moment, thanks to our need for instant gratification. But giving yourself time to decide whether or not to finish the plate may be exactly what you need.
TRY THIS: The next time you’re in a moment where you would normally eat more, but know you shouldn’t, stop for 10 minutes. Give yourself time to decide if you want to eat the rest of the food on your plate. Almost every time, you’ll be happy to toss or save the rest of the food when your 10 minutes is up.
Pay Attention to All Your Hunger Cues
If you’re waiting for your stomach to growl, you may be setting yourself up to overeat, because we don’t all experience the same hunger cues. I will dive into emotional eating later this month. Sometimes it shows up as a headache or a bad mood that comes on suddenly. A nutritionist once said, “I always know I’m hungry when I’m happily working on something and all of a sudden I’m annoyed by what I’m doing.” I can totally relate to this!! Can you?
Knowing how hunger can show up in your body is key to recognizing it before it’s too late and you’re starving. Other potential hunger signals include:
>Suddenly irritable (“hangry”)
TRY THIS: Make note of which hunger cues you experience each time you eat. Slowly you’ll discover what means “I’m hungry” for your body, allowing you to eat right away rather than waiting until later, when you’re ravenous, and therefore more likely to overeat.
It can be so hard to say no when food is right in front of you—and so easy to ignore that full feeling and eat until you’re so full you literally need to lay down because it hurts to sit or stand. Flashback to *Childhood Christmases!!*
Stop the cycle of overeating once and follow all these simple tips. Test each one to see which works best for you and then stick with it. Once it becomes a habit, you’re more likely to say no when you’re full and indulge when your body needs the fuel. Learn to eat consciously x
Try out the meal hacks from my previous blog, to save time in the kitchen.
If you enjoyed these conscious eating reminders, drop a comment below. I would love to hear which one affects you the most.