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Conscious Eating in the New Year, by Jordan Rubin

Jordan Rubin

Now that we’re one month into the New Year, many people are struggling to hold onto their health resolutions. Let’s take a moment and refresh ourselves with conscious eating tips that will help keep us aware of what we are eating and why. Young children, under the age of 5, instinctively eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. Though we typically lose this more natural, instinctive way to eating, we can gain it back. There are three easy steps outlined here to make you a more conscious eater.

Pay Attention to Hunger

Many of us eat for reasons other than hunger. We eat because food is there and it looks tasty, we eat so our kid’s unwanted dinner doesn’t go to waste, we eat when we are happy and we eat when we are sad. Overcoming negative emotional eating, and eating (most of the time at least) because we are hungry and stopping when we are full is a learned behavior and one that I believe all of us can learn. However, it does take some effort and more importantly, it takes not beating yourself up for times when you do overeat. Even with our best efforts, all of us will overeat at some point.

Jessica Setnick, MS, RD has her clients conduct the “apple test” prior to eating to determine if they are truly hungry. When a craving starts or you feel like eating but know deep down that you might not be hungry, ask yourself, “Would I eat an apple?” If the answer is yes, then you are indeed hungry. If you would not eat an apple but would eat cookies or other similar food, then you are not hungry. This technique will help you focus in, deliberately pay attention and assess your hunger levels. If you aren’t hungry, the next step is figuring out why you are turning to food. If the answer is boredom, stress, sadness or any other emotional reason, then facing that reason and finding an alternative way to handle it is necessary. Life will throw us curveballs and the trick isn’t to dodge them, but instead face them head on. How we handle these situations is a true test of our character. But with every one we handle well, we grow stronger and more able to take on the next curveball, and maybe even hit it out of the park.

Eat at the Table

Though we make our children sit down and eat at the table, oftentimes we don’t do so ourselves. Instead, we may eat while we are making a meal, or grab more food when we are cleaning up from dinner. When we are practicing mindful eating, however, we make it a point to sit down and eat at the table and pay attention, every time we eat. It is amazing how eating can become such a reaction that we aren’t even aware of what we are doing. Do you recall walking by the office stash of cookies and grabbing a few that you mindlessly chew while talking to a co-worker? Or finishing your 3 year olds pop-tart that they left sitting on the playroom floor? Make it a point to not only assess whether you are hungry or not, but also eat at the table.

Enjoy the Experience

In addition to figuring out if we are hungry and sitting down to eat, it is important to pay attention to the experience of eating. How does the food taste? What is the texture like? Temperature? Take the time to enjoy the experience rather then watching the evening news while mindlessly snacking on chips or cookies. Many people run out their front door only to run back in again and make sure they turned the stove burners off. If they actively think about what they are doing when they turn off their burners, they are less likely to get in their car and wonder if they have done so. The same is true for eating. If you pay attention and enjoy what you are eating, you are less likely to feel the need to go back for more just to experience the eating process.

Consistently practicing conscious eating will help us reshape our habits and patterns of turning to food to avoid uncomfortable feelings. Now granted, we eat sometimes when we are celebrating birthdays, weddings, parties and the like but, even during these occasions we are less likely to overeat if we are accustomed to the conscious approach to eating.

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Common Makers Diet Jordan Rubin misspellings are Jordan Ruben, Jordan Reuben, Jordon Rubin, Jordon Ruben, or Jordon Reuben