Thursday, January 20, 2011

Practice "Active Eating"

So I used to give customer service seminars while working for a couple of different companies. I considered myself a relatively good customer service representative. I was happy, thoughtful, concerned, and most importantly - I listened (or at least tried to - hey, I didn't say I practiced what I preached, don't judge!)

Go to any customer service seminar, motivational speaking, or any book about "bettering yourself" and they'll discuss "listening." And not just listening, but "Active Listening."

What is "active listening", you say? Active listening is about paying attention while another person is talking, not thinking about what you'll say next, or watching what's going on outside the window, or thinking about what you'll watch on TV that night. It's about being present, giving your attention, and allowing the listener to know that you are giving them your undivided attention - listening. (Trust me, its harder than it sounds, especially for a "chatty" gal like me)

What does that have to do with healthy living? Tons.

Last night, while cooking dinner I took a bite of what I was cooking to "check the flavor." (Ok really I wanted a bite - agin, don't judge!) Then I roamed around the house doing various things, came back, stirred the pot, took another bite... went to do some errands again ... or wait... Did I take another bite? I can't remember... was that one bite? Two bites? Or am I just remembering the first...? Now don't get your panties in a wad if you think for a second I was worried about the calories of two bites vs. one. I wasn't. What I was worried about is... I couldn't remember...

Perhaps you've been in this situation, you're sitting down with a bag of something yummy and delicious... all of a sudden your hand hits the bottom of the bag... and you can't remember that you ate all of it. Your mind was focused on the TV, or the book, or the hilarious YouTube video of a Chimp on a SegWay...

"Did I eat that whole bag?"
"I don't remember eating that much...?"
"I can't even really recall enjoying one bite...?"

Sound familiar? Aha, here's the issue. Not paying attention!

We weren't practicing "active eating."

Active eating is like "listening to your food". It's taking in each bite and consciously focusing on your food... so that your mind and body register that you've eaten. When your mind wanders while you eat, you forget to enjoy, you forget the flavor, and worse of all, you forget to stop. It's almost as if you can't even remember eating, yet you did. (Ever drive to work and completely zone out during the drive? Same thing) By practicing "active eating" we can enjoy our food, recognize that it's going into our bodies, and best of all control the amount (which means, listening to our body when it says "I'm full").

But how do I practice "active eating", you ask? Here's a few tips:

- Quit eating in front of the TV or computer. Or if you must, don't take the entire bag/box, put a portion into a bowl. And only allow yourself to eat a couple of bites during commercials or every 5 minutes.

- Try to eat at the kitchen/dining room table. I know this seems weird, but at a table you are seated, staring at your food, and this is the "proper" place for eating. Therefore you're more aware.

- When you go to take a bite of your food think to yourself something very simple: "Enjoy it!" Repeat this to yourself while eating... enjoy it.... enjoy it. The flavor, the taste, the energy it will give you. This is food. Its yummy, it's not evil. It is fuel for your body. You can have it. So enjoy it!

The point of "active eating" isn't about trying to "eat less" or "lose weight" but rather about trying to allow yourself to focus for those moments of enjoying the food you have. Food is fuel for your body... but creamy hot Queso with a pile of salty tortillas chips or a piece of smooth dark chocolate that I only allow every once and a while... is also delicious and if I'm going to spend those extra calories eating it, I wanna enjoy every moment of it.

LISTEN to your food. LISTEN to your body.

Become more ACTIVE in what you eat. Become more ACTIVE with your body.

ENJOY every moment of it.

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