Here at The CYCLE Kids Family Hub, we teach our “CYCLE Kids” how to not only eat healthfully, but also how to eat mindfully. While vegetables and water are essential pillars to great health, mindful eating is something that often takes a backseat in our busy lifestyles, but can greatly impact our health. When we eat mindfully, it’s much easier to tap into our hunger and fullness cues, therefore naturally controlling the amount of food we eat. Additionally, mindful eating gives us the opportunity to focus, breathe, and calm down before and during our meal or snack, decreasing our stress levels, and making us less susceptible to eating in response to our emotions. If this sounds like something you and your family would like to try, but you’re not quite sure how to get started, check out our five tips below.
1. Sit down to a family dinner.
While this might not always be possible, undistracted meal time is essential to eating mindfully. When we eat while distracted, for example, in front of the TV, computer, or while driving, it makes it much more difficult for our stomach to signal to our brain that we are full, and it’s time to stop eating. This makes it easy for us to overeat, and makes it more difficult for our digestive system to fully digest and assimilate all of the nutrients from our meal.
2. Say grace or practice gratitude.
Regardless of your family’s religious traditions, taking a few moments at the beginning of the meal to express gratitude for the food on your plate, gives you a moment to unwind and be present during your meal. This simple practice can help lower your stress hormones, and increase the amount of pleasure and satisfaction you get from your meal. Who doesn’t want that?
3. Turn off distractions.
While this might not make everyone happy, it will definitely make them healthy! Try turning off all distractions during dinner, especially cell phones and TV. This will allow you to focus on your food and family without simultaneously absorbing the stress from the outside world.
4. Snack off a plate, not out of a bag.
Making eye contact is extremely important when it comes to mindful eating. When you don’t see how much food you have, and how much you have left, it makes it more difficult to get in touch with your hunger and fullness cues. Setting up your snacks on a plate, whether it be potato chips, cookies, or carrots, will automatically help you eat more mindfully - especially if you also follow tips #2 and #3!
5. Fill up on high fiber, nutrient dense foods.
Have you ever eaten a large veggie-based salad really fast? Probably not. Filling up on high fiber, nutrient dense foods, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds automatically makes you slow down. These foods require extra chewing and tasting time with each meal, not to mention they’re much healthier than their processed counterparts!
We know it might not be possible to change habits over night, but is it possible to pick one tip from the list to get started on with your family? Which one will you try? Let us know in the comments below! And please, make sure to share this email with your friends and family who might benefit from this information as well!