Before you start a new diet : Notice your eating

We keep reading about clean eating and its importance; I even believe in it and try to accommodate it for at least 70% in my weekly plan, but what are the other types, read along and reflect on your day.

1. FUEL eating, which in other words is clean eating. When we eat minimally processed food to nourish ourselves.

2. FUN eating: eating what we love; it tastes wonderful and maybe does not give any nourishment in return.

3. FOG eating: eating with 0 awareness. You know you are fog eating when suddenly the plate is empty, or you do not remember what and how. Yes, eating kids’ food crumbs count too!!

4. STORM eating: this is the definition of binge eating; you are aware, you want to stop but just cannot. This leads to a dramatic cycle of shame and deciding to start dieting on Monday.

Now that I explained these four, briefly reflect on your week or day. What happened, when it happened, and how do you feel? You cannot fuel eat at 100%; we are humans, and food is a pleasure. Aim for 80% fuel 20% fun.
If a storm or fog happened today, observe and reflect. There is always a next meal where you can give yourself better care. Take it one meal at a time, no restrictions, no shaming.

Happy eating 💚


Mindful bites for a healthier lifestyle

Every day is an opportunity to take care of ourselves, and every meal is an opportunity to nourish our bodies. Our eating habits go way past our generation; we inherited many of our habits from our parents and grandparents. While so many are still in place, unfortunately, our obesity rates have increased, and people suffer from chronic diseases starting at a very young age. Below are some points to consider if you decided that today is the day to live a better life.

Mindful Eating

When I was introduced to mindful eating, I thought it is a magical diet where my mind will control my appetite and lose all the extra weight; oh, I was wrong !!!

Mindful eating is not a diet; it is the practice of trying to be present and paying attention to the Now! Most of us are wired to be on autopilot when it comes to food; we eat because it is time, or we just finished work or want to finish and do other essential things. Too much distraction is standing in our way.

Mindful eating is observing our body, what it needs, and what it wants. Putting all distractions aside, stress, drama, boredom, news, all of that. Just find a place to sit and eat that food; I recommend reading Tich Nhat Hanh’s books on mindful eating, including “Savor.”

Please do not focus on what you eat and how much at the start; observe and notice your body and its messages.

Food Labeling: Good vs. Bad

Are you familiar with the forbidden fruit syndrome? The fruit that is forbidden is the most we want to have. It is funny every time I visit a diet center and receive a diet plan with a red list; I start craving these right away!

Labeling food as good or bad reflects how we perceive ourselves; we fail if we eat bad food and feel proud if we survived all restrictions for a day or a week before we fail again.

Try this instead, look at food as joyful nourishment; remember your body needs carbs, protein, fat, and fiber. Look at your week plan, you have at least twenty-one meals. Aim to eat in moderation for most of them; it is ok if some were less nutritious. Practice self-compassion and enjoy the food; if you see a pattern in your food choices, look a bit deeper; maybe there is a reason behind it.

What is in your shopping trolley

This is one of the best practices to start with; remember, we do not need to label food as good or bad. Think about it this way; grocery shopping is investing your money in what adds value to your nutrition:

– We want food that is the closest to its nature: the best example is fresh produce.
– We want food that sustains our energy levels and filled with nutrients
– We want carbs, proteins, fiber, and fats.
– We want food that makes us happy after we eat it, not starving, regretting, nor shaming.
– Always keep a room to try a new item, one new item to explore.

Do not go super strict on yourself, neither waste your money on short-term pleasures. Swap your money with valuable nutrition.

Get Label Savvy

How much do you know about food labeling? We do not need to be certified nutritionists to have basic knowledge about what goes in our mouths. I’ll give you some quick tips below:

1. Ingredients: this is where all that goes in your food is listed. All ingredients are listed in order by weight, so if the first item you read is sugar, then most of that food is sugar!! Try to look at the back of a chocolate bar, 99% chance the main ingredient is sugar, even if it is promoted as 75% dark chocolate
2. How many ingredients: the best clean food is the one that has no label, no ingredients, but 100% pure something. If you read up to five ingredients, still you’re in an ok zone. More than that, you’re eating processed food.
3. Labels: this is where you see a breakdown of nutrients, calories per serving and how many servings the pack includes. Pay attention to the number of servings, especially the lightweight food such as cereals, Biscuits, and similar.
4. Fancy attractions: beware of fat-free, light, 0, reduced. This kind of food marketing is a trap when you do not read the labels carefully.

Resign from the clean plate club

Raise your hands if you grew up in a home where clearing your plate is your only way to have dessert, playtime, or even excused from the table.

Our parents had the best intentions to provide us with nourishment and grow respect for the food on our plates. But, unfortunately, we grew up ignoring our body signals, building unhealthy habits, and struggling with our weight to too many. If you’re a member of the “clean your plate club,” here is your way out:

– Start with meal prepping: if you cook nourishing food, everyone will end up with the right choice.
– Serve smaller: you can try serving on smaller dishes, or serve a smaller portion than usual, allowing a second refill if needed.
– Fight the food waste fear; if you leave food on your plate, you do not necessarily need to throw it. There is always a container, no matter how small you leave.
– Leftovers are perfect for new recipe recreation.
– Be mindful; check your hunger/full signals.
– Work it one meal at a time; you’re breaking a lifelong habit.

As a mom of two, I know I have pushed my daughters to eat and finish their greens when not hungry. I even ate their crumbs so many times. Mindful eating helped me to start right and making things better, one bite at a time. There is always the next meal to make it worth it.        

Losing the extra weight: top 6 tips I learned from Thich Nhat Hanh on mindful eating

Food is around us, everywhere and at any time. It is the kind of friend who is always there for you when you’re stressed, down, or bored. But every good relationship necessitates mutual respect, care, and proper connection. Ever wondered why we eat?

Why do people eat? Is it a need or a want?

It is impossible to compare ourselves to our old ancestors who were insecure, fighting for their presence and going days without food. Once the food was found, they will eat to restore their energy. Most probably, in my opinion, ancestors did not have enough fuel/ calories, if you want to call it. Our days are different; in modern communities, you are hungry, hit the fridge or the supermarket, or even better,  your mobile to order quickly. But is that hunger?

Our senses play a significant role in our daily decisions; Passing by a coke advertisement, smelling that freshly baked Cinnabon, even if you just finished breakfast, make you want it.

What about external social cues? That call from your best friend after she broke up with her boyfriend, so you need to prepare the survival kit; Ice cream, choco-chips cookies, and a box of tissue papers.

We tend to want food because it is a cure for many of our discomforts, treating our stress, socializing, and fighting boredom. But if we love food that much, we better respect it and work on our relationship.

What is mindful eating

Indeed it is not a diet; mindful eating is bringing your conscious awareness to that plate and practicing removing any distraction that is causing you to eat mindlessly.

“Don’t Chew your worries, your fear, or your anger. If you chew your planning and your anxiety, it is difficult to feel grateful for each piece of food. Just chew that food” .

Thich Naht Hanh

Who is Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh is a spiritual leader, peace activist, and poet. He is globally known for his powerful teachings on mindfulness, global ethics, and peace. He has published many books that address mindfulness, “How to eat” and “Savor” are two excellent books I recommend reading.

Top 5 tips I learned from Thich Nhat Hanh

Eat Slowly: Dedicate time, find a place to eat, and pay attention to the food . Slowing down the chewing helps you notice the flavors, texture, and smell. Not only our body needs twenty minutes to signal fullness ( thanks to the brain/gut message exchange), but by eating slowly, you will notice your genuine connection with that food. Give it a try; you will be surprised.

Cook your food: I understand too many believe they cannot; they hate the kitchen or do not know-how.

Cooking is simple once you recognize it as an act of self-care. You do not need expensive utensils to chop a salad or make a warm soup.

Choose: once you know that eating food is self-care, know the source of your food. Is it healthy? Fresh? Does it come from a sustainable source? Am I helping local businesses? Choosing what you eat is exactly the right prescription for your happy health.

Listen to your body: Eat and observe; we are wired and programmed to eat specific times and specific food that socially connects us to our surroundings. You will be surprised by the countless unmindful decisions we take. When you eat, listen to your body; is my body satisfied? Is that why your body wants?

Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude: if only food can talk, it will reveal how many times we abused it! It will take one minute to stop and appreciate that dish full of nourishing ingredients, thanking at heart how it reached your plate.

Following a depriving diet will not fight the extra weight. Undoing your eating habits and embracing mindful eating will fix your relationship with food. Only then can change happen, and the benefits will be countless, not only the number on the scale.

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