Mindful Eating Is Helpful

Today is my son’s 2nd birthday. I can’t believe that my little dude is two; he is pretty cool and teaches me a lot about life.

I want to share the most valuable lesson TJ has taught me this year.

It’s important to enjoy what you eat and not ignore your hunger.

TJ is the cutest kid I know; however, if he is hungry, he turns into a cave person…oh, and if it is the food he isn’t a fan of, FORGET ABOUT IT!

Does that mean Maria and I only feed him peanut butter toast? No, of course not, but here is the approach we take.

On TJ’s plate, you will find:

  • Protein (Usually 25% of the plate)
  • Carbs (Usually 25% of the plate)
  • Fruits and Veggies (50% of the plate)
  • Fat (a thumb or two)

Does he eat all of it? HECK NO! But we make sure to keep things on the plate he loves, like fruit, cheese, and sweet potatoes. He is getting nutrients from the food, and kids have a funny way of knowing when they have had enough to eat.

The one thing that makes the most significant difference for TJ is eating enough protein. We ballpark it and consider that most of his food has enough protein for him. Worst comes to worst; I will make him a super smoothie:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 handful blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 thumb of avocado
  • 1 teaspoon of chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 1 handful spinach

A great snack and an excellent way to sneak in some protein/veggies!

You and I aren’t too different from TJ. If we eat enough protein and get enough fiber in our diet, things tend to work out. 

A common question I am asked is how much protein should I be eating?

It all depends on your goal, but a good rule for weight loss is about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

Another question is, what are some good sources of protein? I’ve got you covered.

Protein helps with:

😌 Hunger and fullness between meals

🕺 Strength development and recovery

🦴 Happy bones.

Plating a healthy portion of protein has been a game-changer for many clients, and it is something I have personally struggled with for a few years.

I was vegetarian/vegan for three years, and getting enough protein to support my activity levels and goals was a challenge, but eventually, I figured it out. 

No matter your dietary choices, remember that balanced plates are good, and so are all the food groups.

So should you always eat when you’re hungry? 

Hunger is a part of weight loss. It varies from person to person, but weight gain is caused by eating in a caloric surplus. Of course, this might not be true for everyone, but it is for the majority of people.  

Health-promoting activities and eating in a caloric deficit are your best bet to lose weight. To achieve a deficit, you will be reducing the amount of food you usually eat and possibly replacing some of the calories with nutrient-dense whole foods.   

You will be eating less, and you will experience moments when you are hungry. Hunger isn’t going anywhere, and it is an important cue that has kept humans alive for a long time. So, in other words, it is normal; however, you shouldn’t be hungry all the time.  

There are a few reasons you might be experiencing frequent hunger.

The caloric deficit might be a bit too aggressive. It depends on your current weight and the amount of weight you are trying to lose. Aggressive low, calorie dieting makes it easier to gain the weight back due to hormonal adaptations from rapid weight loss.   Slow, sustainable weight loss is a better choice. You can achieve this through health-promoting behaviors like: 

  • Sleeping 7-9 hours
  • Drinking more water 
  • Eating balanced plates with carbohydrates, protein, vegetables/fruits, and fat
  • Going for daily walks 
  • Daily dance parties…or exercise, whatever you want to call it. 😉

You might not be eating enough protein. Protein is your friend and aids in recovery between training sessions and overall fullness between meals. Aiming for 0.7-1.0 g/lb of protein in your diet is safe. You can try to add 1-2 palms of protein at every meal. Here’s a helpful protein guide!

If you eat balanced meals with healthy portions of protein and are frequently hungry, it might be an emotion, boredom, or exhaustion. 

A client told me, during a recent coaching call, “I believe overeating is the crux of my problems. It doesn’t help that I am constantly rationalizing things in the moment “It’s just too good.” 

There are a few ways to start exploring the comfort of being overly full. One that can help is giving yourself the chance to slow down. It takes time to recognize you are full, especially when eating quickly.

There are two guidelines that you can experiment with:

During meals: Put your fork down between bites.

Putting your fork or hand-based food (sandwich)down between bites allows you to slow down and enjoy the food.

The next time you pick up your fork would be after chewing and swallowing your food. Other options are to take a sip of water between bites or to talk with a friend/family member between bites. 

During meals: Pay attention to the food you are enjoying. Practice Mindfulness.

Try picking one thing to notice about your next meal. 

  • Taste.
  • Smell.
  • Texture.
  • Sight.
  • Sound even works, especially if you’re having rice crispy cereal. 😉

Mindfulness helps you distinguish between being in love with the taste vs. being full. Research has shown that you are more likely to snack or eat more at the next meal if you don’t take the time to be aware of what you are eating.

The biggest thing to remember is that you will need to practice, which implies you will make mistakes which is a good thing. You will learn what works and what doesn’t work.

You will figure it out along the way, and the more you practice, the more self-compassion you can develop.

Many of the issues surrounding the ability to recognize hunger and fullness cues is a deep connection between finding comfort in food. To help you dive in and better understand stress eating, I want to share my stress eating e-book. It’s free .99; all you need to do is click below. 

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