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Mindful Eating Cheat Sheet

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Mindful Eating Rules To Live By

Mindful eating is about paying attention to your eating on purpose. It’s a non-judgment practice of eating where you eat in a way that makes you feel healthy and happy and you use your intuition or common sense to make choices. You shouldn’t have to rely on science, diets, trends, programs, books, etc to tell whether a food is truly healthy–you already know. So let’s start with the number one rule to mindful eating…

1.Use your common sense and only your common sense to make choices. 

There is so much information out there that sometimes we lose our common sense when it comes to eating. Do you really think adding butter to your coffee will really boost your metabolism? Do you think completely giving up carbs is smart and sustainable? Where will you get your energy? How long will this no-carb diet really last? Do you think energy really comes in a can? Remember that we don’t eat nutrients, we eat food. What do you think is going to be more powerful? Something from a bottle or real foods? Food is the most powerful medicine on the planet.

Whatever behavior you choose, you need to be able to maintain it. Don’t start juicing if you can’t keep it up. Don’t give up your carbs during the week only to binge out on the weekends. You have to build a lifestyle that sticks. A key factor to a long-term healthy and sustainable lifestyle is recognizing that it must be done through pleasure.

2. Understand that extremes and food restrictions don’t work.

Yes, too healthy is absolutely a thing. When you live “too healthy” you take the fun out of eating, and when you live too unhealthy you take the fun out of life. Find balance–it’s more fun.  Don’t give anything up, just make everything better. 

3. Be aware of how much and how often you indulge.

We don’t get pleasure when we overdo things. Perhaps that piece of chocolate cake will bring you instant gratification but it won’t bring you long-term health and happiness. Think about it. That ice cream you love so much will be much more rewarding when you don’t eat it everyday. Don’t over do anything. Add variety to your life and practice moderation. Everything can fit into a healthy lifestyle.

4. Understand how certain actions make you feel before you make them?

Did you know that cravings truly only last 10 minutes? Take your mind off your craving by going for a walk, taking a stretch/breathing break, or drinking some water. Revisit you craving after 1o minutes and if it’s still there think about how that particular food will make you feel after you eat it? Does it energize you or make you lethargic? Does it contribute to your long-term goal? Is it really worth it? How could you make it better?

Start to be more aware of your choices and why are you making them. Are you bored or stressed? It’s okay to give into those cravings from time to time, but not all the time. Start to build that muscle to say no or not now. It doesn’t mean you can never have it, just now may not be the right time.

5. Allow yourself to give in a bit for the sake of others.

Determine what is more important. Look at the relationship and bigger picture. If your Mother in law makes you her famous chicken pot pie loaded with lots of butter, fat, and unhealthy ingredients, determine what is more important before saying no.  One meal of splurging won’t ruin your long-term health goals. I come from a big Lebanese family where food is definitely the center of every occasion. We get pleasure by feeding people because food is love, it connects us and it’s meant to be shared. Food is social and it’s our social interactions that also contribute to long-term health and happiness.

We don’t remember the things we buy but we do remember the meals we eat and whom we eat them with.

6. Find things that make you live more mindfully.

Traveling, wine, dinner, home-cooked meals, Sunday brunch, coffee date, adventures, yoga. Traveling allows you to be present and soak in new experiences. It’s a state of complete engagement. When it comes to traveling, be strategic about your meals. You don’t travel all the way to France to eat a packaged croissant on the airplane. Save this experience for a cute little cafe where you can get freshly baked croissant and a cappuccino while you people watch for the full experience. Plan ahead and take some time to scope out the best food spots that allow you to be present and take in the full experience.

This is the linguine with clams dish I shared with my Mom during our time in Nice, France. Isn’t she beautiful?

I recently traveled to Europe and scoped out the best paella in Barcelona, the most delicious gnocchi and linguine with clams in the French Riviera, and the most amazing wine in the Almafi Coast. I believe there is something very healthy about wine drinking. It allows you to slow down at your meal and take time to admire, sip, savor, taste, and really enjoy your dining experience. Plus, it stimulates conversation and wine is made from grapes so technically it is a “superfood.” With that being said, it is important to practice the 80/20 rule when it comes to wine drinking. Don’t just mindlessly drink a glass of wine while you are watching TV, save it for the weekends when you can share it with someone special.

Be strategic, plan ahead, and make everything count. Eat with purpose (AKA: Mindful Eating) Have conversation, make time for the things and people that matter, and connect to what’s truly important: Life.

7. Find ways to “let go” and stop worrying about being perfect.

There is so much more to food than eating to lose weight or be healthy–it’s an experience that’s meant to be enjoyed in every way. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being better. A key factor to long-term sustainable weight loss is recognizing that it must be done through pleasure.

8. Take time to build a lifestyle and don’t take any short cuts.

Short cuts don’t work and they will never work. Build your lifestyle overtime and it will become effortless–I promise. Will power and motivation will run out, but it’s our lifestyle, habits, and daily rituals that will always pick us back up when life gets hard.