Read The Transcript:
This month in my Functional Medicine FB community, we are focused on mindful eating and how that affects our digestive health, sleep, hormones, and really our whole health.
The link to join us will be in the description here, so make sure to sign up and catch up on our masterclass from last week and all the great info and posts.
One of the biggest questions I get about mindfulness is where to start. A few of the concerns my patients have include:
– I never know how much to eat, I don’t have an ‘off switch’ so I keep eating until I am sick
– I don’t feel hungry ever so I don’t know how to feel when I do eat
– I’m too busy to even think about food, let alone mindfulness!
So let’s take these big topics and break them down.
First: I don’t know how much to eat. Maybe you overeat, maybe you don’t notice when you are full. You might feel guilty if you don’t finish all your food because you don’t want to waste any. Or you are worried about calories. There are many reasons why you would be worried about knowing how much to eat.
I’m going to go through some options that might help you navigate this part of mindful eating, and you can pick and choose what works for you. You don’t have to do everything I list, but try one at a time and see how you feel.
First, we can start with the amount of food, which can be the easiest to control. You can try using smaller plates when you are sitting down to eat. A smaller plate means you will add less food and that will give you more time to listen to your body. You might try either weighing your food or measuring: you start with 1/2 cup of rice instead of a heapful on your plate. Or 5 ounces of chicken instead of the whole piece.
Then, when you have finished eating, you can take a 5-10 minute break to digest and allow your hormones to work with your brain and see if you are still hungry. If you are still hungry, go back for more and if you aren’t, then great! You chose the right amount of food for you.
Then you can take your leftovers and save them for breakfast or lunch the next day.
This whole process of mindfulness, slowing down, and even measuring, is a learning experiment. You are learning what your body prefers and over time and with practice this will become intuitive and innate.
Problem 2: I don’t feel hungry, so I don’t know when to eat.
This is a very common issue, especially with my female patients who are skipping breakfast, under high amounts of stress, drink lots of coffee and eat mainly carbs like sandwiches, bagels, and their kids snacks.
This directly affects cortisol and create insulin resistance, so the high cortisol suppresses your appetite and might even make you feel nauseous, so when you wake up you don’t feel like eating, but later in the day you are starving and will overeat junk.
This is where I would have you start with eating small snacks throughout the day, starting with breakfast and eating every 2-3 hours to help keep your blood sugar stable and keep cortisol balanced.
But, since you don’t feel like eating this makes it difficult to know what to eat. I recommend having small things that you like: fruit, nuts dairy free yogurt and start to experiment with snacks. After a week or a few weeks you will start to feel hungry again, on time, and you will know what helps you feel energized and good during the day.
You might also need to add in digestive enzymes to help with food breakdown if you are having any nausea or you don’t feel good when you eat. Any bloating, gas, reflux, nausea, or heartburn are signs that enzymes would be helpful for you and help you feel better when you eat!
Again, this is an experiment that takes time and practice. Even I am still learning about what works and what doesn’t work for me.
Our last topic: I’m too busy to focus on food.
Okay my friend on the go. Maybe you are traveling for work or driving long commutes and making breakfast is out of the question. Or you are the chauffeur for your family and food is the drive-through between practices, games, and school. Or you are an entrepreneur who works 24/7 and you can’t take any time away. Or life is so stressful and complicated and messy right now to think about food.
First, you get a hug and a huge celebration of how hard you are working and still pushing through despite all the crap going on in your life. You are amazing.
And you know I’m going to say that you can’t keep going at the pace you are without falling apart and if you don’t take care of you, no one else will!
And you know that preparation is key for this: planning out your meals on the day/night that you have time. Usually Sunday’s are best but whatever day that is for you. Writing down the meals you want to make and a grocery list.
When you start it might even be best to do the same things every week so you don’t have to add one more decision to your life. Every Monday is salmon, Tuesdays are taco nights, and so on. Until you are in a good habit of knowing what works for your family and what doesn’t.
Another favorite option is to run to costco or sams, mainly because it is cheapest and they have the best options and grab some individual size snacks and food. You can get a chicken salad from their kitchen and break it up in separate containers so you always have lunch prepped. Grab some individual hummus or guacamole packages and a bags of chips or veggies. Break up those into ziplock bags and keep them in your go bag for snacks. The pre-packaged individual snacks can be so helpful when you are on the go and one less thing to worry about. Keep a cooler in your trunk to keep your food fresh if you need to and start trying different and new foods too!
To close out today, you don’t have to be perfect with your food every single day. We make hundreds of decisions about food every single day and it just adds to the stress that we already have going on. Start simple and small and as you build these habits you will develop the tools and options so you can keep moving forward and feeling better.