For the last several months I’ve been studying the concept of mindful eating. Recently, I was a guest blogger for a mindful eating website (www.eatq.com) so I have created a series of articles on my experience with mindful eating tips for you.
Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner.
One would think these are the only food choices we make. Did you know that a recent scientific study found that we make over 250 food choices each day?
Coffee – black? cream? sugar? in my favorite blue ceramic mug? to-go thermos?
Breakfast cereal (which?)? with almond milk? fat-free milk?
Or oatmeal? brown sugar? maple syrup? walnuts? raisins? milk? apple? banana? frozen blueberries?
All these choices invade my thoughts, and I haven’t even climbed out of bed yet! Okay, so the research from Cornell is probably true – but 250+ food choices a day? WOW.
I was recently listening to a news interview with a guy who was wrongfully accused of murder and spent 10 years in prison before he was finally acquitted and released. He was explaining the luxuries of making his own decisions – like having a variety of things to eat instead of whatever is served cafeteria-style that day. It makes me appreciate how fortunate I am to have 250+ daunting choices to make each day.
I take comfort in routine and know I make my best food choices when I have a plan. So many of my food decisions are made on Monday nights when I make my meal plans for the week. To you it may seem boring, mundane. To me it means control, satisfaction and security. And I know I can build flexibility within the basic framework.
I never gave much thought to the process of making food decisions until now. I guess I’d conclude that the majority of my foods are planned from habit (for example: I often eat the same foods on Tuesdays because of my routine – with the exception of dinner, which varies. But this plan is comforting and satisfying to me, and keeps me on track).
I’ve been helping people reach their healthy goals since 2007 and have observed over the years that those who take the time to plan ahead (and stick to the plan) are most successful in their healthy pursuits. It’s always an added challenge to counsel those who don’t have skills or desire to plan ahead, and make consistent choices. But it can be done – with tenacity, dedication, support and encouragement – folks can make a healthy lifestyle of turning off the autopilot decisions or feeling ‘victim’ to careless food options. Instead, consider making and owning your decisions – one thought at a time – and take the opportunity to make a mindful choice.
Take action this week by pausing to think about each food choice and ask yourself “is this bite taking me closer to my healthy goals, or further away from them?” This can be a powerful (and empowering) thought. The future is yours to decide. Go to it – one bite at a time!
Sara Wolfsen is a Certified Health Coach who specializes in helping people make their own healthy changes by providing private health coaching, nutrition education and wellness classes, and gentle weight-loss guidance and support. Schedule your complimentary coaching session and learn more online at www.sarawolfsen.com.