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Considering how high the stakes are, should it really be that hard for us to just think about what we’re eating?
The new term is “mindful eating.” It sounds fancy enough, but it’s really just new-fangled psychobabble terminology for the same message you’ve been given since you were old enough to hold your own fork and spoon at the dinner table: Eat your meat and vegetables.
So why do nutritionists and health experts feel the need to preach to us about a basic habit? Because fewer of us are taking the time to sit at the dinner table. That makes it easy for you to fall into ‘mindless eating.’
Mindless eating happens when you’re too distracted to pay attention to what, why and how much you eat. Mindless eating happens because you think you’re just too busy — and you’ve let the stress, the job, the meetings, the ball practice and the social demands take precedence over the value of a healthy meal… and ultimately your life.
And boy, are we paying a high price. Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease are rampant. The high-calorie, nutrient-poor fast foods are just too convenient when you place everything else above your most basic need for nutrient-dense nourishment.
The other reason we mindlessly eat is because we don’t listen to our hunger pangs. Because we are eschewing true nutrition for junk food, we’re never really full. Our bodies are not satisfied with the nourishment they get, so it’s just too easy to snack at your desk, while watching TV, or even when you’re bored.
No more mindless eating
The food manufacturers are partially to blame for America’s junk food addiction as my colleague Dr. Michael Cutler has pointed out numerous times — most recently in Part-Time Health Nut — where he also offers advice on how to break their stronghold on you.
But if you can train yourself to stop and think — just for a second before you take another bite — you may be shocked at what happens…
You WILL lose weight. You WILL improve glucose levels. And you WILL improve cholesterol. How do I know? Because researchers with the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California saw these positive health changes in over 200 study participants. Their weight and numbers declined such that the threat of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease plummeted.
All they did was practice control over what they ate when they were hungry. Now, they received training to help control what they ate. I’ve seen previous studies where meditation was a useful tool. But if you think that right now you don’t have time to prepare a truly healthy meal and sit down and eat it, will you have time to meditate? Probably not.
But what you can do is this: Make you and your health a priority. And a major part of that priority is food. Just do it… ditch the high-stakes eating for mindful eating.
Note that I’m not telling you to eat less to get your health in order, drop weight and disease risk. I’m telling you to EAT. All you have to do is set aside a couple of hours a week to shop for real food and prepare real food. It’s really not that difficult of a task and the benefits outweigh any excuse you can come up with.
But if you need a little extra help I would highly suggest Dr. Cutler’s book. It’s a great guide that even includes how to make simple changes in your kitchen that help keep you on the right track to what matters most in this life: your health!