How to Eat Mindfully: Diets Not Required

Living a life of not dieting means listening to our body and making more mindful choices. The first step is making peace with food.

No DietingThe biggest thing I believe in when I talk about not dieting is the importance of NOT following a restricted eating regimen. The way human nature works … or at least with me … the minute I try to restrict myself from any food, or say I won’t let myself eat a certain food … I instantly want that food.

For example, how long would you last if you vowed to not eat sweets for the next six weeks? I know myself all too well… I would crack.

If we tell ourselves that we can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can often lead to intense feelings of deprivation and uncontrollable cravings.  When we finally “give-in” to a “forbidden” food, it’s often done with such strong intensity that it can result in the Last Supper syndrome where we just eat and eat and eat. Or, it could be followed by extreme guilt.

It’s extremely important to NEVER deprive ourselves of the foods we love. In my book, there is no such thing as a good or bad food, but there is such a thing as a bad portion. Eating healthy is important, but how much we eat is even more important. Try to guide your eating with the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of what I eat is healthy and twenty percent is whatever else I want. There’s no particular order to how this happens either. I’ve had days where I’ve eaten a healthy breakfast, a cheeseburger for lunch, and something small and healthy for dinner. Or, I might have a piece of chocolate after breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It can change every day as you honor your appetite.

Here’s a little exercise for you. Every single day I want for you to think of one food you truly love, and eat it. For example, if you’re craving pizza, eat it. There’s no need to eat the entire pizza. Wait until you’re truly physically hungry and eat a mindful portion. When I say “mindful portion” you want to eat enough until you are satisfied. Not overly full, but satisfied. If you’ve been overly restricted with your diet in the past, this can be challenging. Take your time and slowly start to mindfully incorporate more of the foods you love, or food you thought you loved that you have been restricting yourself from. When you start to eat them, you may even realize that you don’t like it too much.

Estela Schnelle is a registered dietitian and stay-at-home mom. She shares recipes, nutrition tips and her adventures in mommyhood on her blog, WeeklyBite.com.