How to eat mindfully this Easter
From Lindt bunnies to chocolate bilbies and the mini eggs that come home from the kids’ Easter egg hunts, chocolate and Easter seem to go hand-in-hand these days. Add in the freshly baked hot cross buns and staying on track towards your weight loss goals while you navigate Easter might seem like ‘mission impossible’. But trust us, it’s doable on WW as nothing is off limits!
One strategy that can help is adopting a more mindful approach to food, which means paying attention to what you eat and how you eat it, and making a conscious effort to really enjoy and savour the foods you choose. “So much of the time we eat a huge array of foods without realising they have even passed our lips,” says dietitian Katrina Mills. “But eating consciously gives you power over your food choices, and often means you give more thought to what you eat and how it will impact on your body.”
Try these ideas to practise mindfulness as you enjoy the festivities over the Easter break.
1. Rate your hunger level
Rate your hunger before you tuck in. “Ask yourself if you're body or head hungry,” suggests Mills. If it’s head hungry – which means you just fancy eating something, rather than being genuinely hungry – think twice.
2. Portion chocolate before you eat it
Slow down and try eating your chocolate from a plate or bowl. “This really helps to increase your awareness about when and how you're eating, rather than mindlessly consuming chocolate just because it’s there,” says Mills.
3. Don't see chocolate as a 'naughty' food
Think of chocolate as a neutral food, rather than as something that's special or irresistible. “If you’ve been denying yourself chocolate in the lead-up to Easter, your brain can rebel against that restriction and then it becomes a highly desirable food,” Mills says. “Remind yourself that chocolate will still be there tomorrow. Easter is just one day of the year.”
4. Sit while you eat
No more standing and eating. Promise yourself you’ll sit to eat, rather than eating chocolate — or any food — on the run. Turn off the television and Facebook to focus fully on your meal. “Sit, savour, enjoy the experience,” says Mills. “Check in with yourself before you take a second bite and ask yourself if you are hungry and really want another mouthful.”
5. Lose the guilt
“Mindful eating is being in tune with your body’s hunger and desire for food, and feeling guilty about food interrupts that connection,” says psychologist Louise Adams. “People who learn mindful eating start to lose the guilt and to trust that their body again. They learn to trust they’re not going to eat chocolate all day every day, but only when they feel like it,” says Adams.
6. Take note of what you eat
Pen and paper (or iPhone or laptop!) can be the most powerful tools on your path to improved eating habits. “Keep a journal about your experiences with food. As your self-awareness grows, the more you will reflect and be honest with yourself,” says Mills.
7. Choose quality over quantity
Skip cheap, waxy chocolate or dried-out hot cross buns. “Think quality over quantity and buy a smaller amount of your favourite chocolate so there isn't a large quantity available to mindlessly eat.” says Mills.
8. Be kind to yourself
Being mindful also means showing compassion towards others and yourself. When you do polish off a bag of mini-eggs just because they were in the pantry, don’t beat yourself up. Practise self-kindness and compassion — and then commit to getting back on track straight away.
The 'Five Senses' mindful eating exercise
This Five Senses mindful eating exercise is one Mills recommends to help show what mindful eating is all about. At a quiet, relaxed time, place a palm-sized quantity of your favourite food on a plate, then use all five of your senses to experience it.
1. Look at it, notice its colour, size and shape.
2. Smell it. What are the aromas?
3. Take a bite and listen as you chew.
4. Feel the textures of the food in your mouth.
5. Taste the flavours as you slowly chew and savour it.