The other night, I caught myself doing something that I'm not proud of.
My husband and I had planned to eat late due to some evening commitments. I hadn't had time to prepare our meal before the kids got hungry, so I made an exception and heated them up a separate meal.
I started tidying the kitchen as I waited for my husband to arrive home. As I loaded the dishwasher, I noticed something: Without even realizing it, I was eating hours-old tater tots off my kids' plates!
You may think this is a statement against tater tots. I can assure you, I am not anti-tot. I have no problem eating tater tots every now and again, or feeding them to my kids.
Here are the problems with my behavior:
1. I was eating without even realizing it.
2. THEY DIDN'T EVEN TASTE GOOD! They were soggy and cold.
What can I say? Happens to the best of us?
If you read my last post, you know that i am trying to be more mindful of practicing mindfulness. Tatergate 2016 is an excellent example of mindlessness, and specifically mindless eating.
Mindful eating can be a great tool against skimming from your kids' plates during cleanup.
In this post, I will give a brief overview of mindful eating. I love this topic (even when I don't execute it so well), and I can promise you will see a lot of it in upcoming posts.
So what is mindful eating?
A simple definition for mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose.
Let's apply this to eating. When you eat mindfully, you:
1. Pay attention to your body's hunger and satiety cues.
2. Notice all sensory aspects of a food--touch, sight, smell, taste, and hearing.
3. Finish one bite before eating the next.
4. Eat free of distractions (as much as possible, at least).
5. Show gratitude for your food.
My family and I are so lucky that we can attend free mindfulness training at our kids' school each week. The teachers who lead the sessions do a really great job of teaching the kids mindful eating.
At each session, we can choose a tangerine or a pack of goldfish crackers.
We sit quietly before eating our food and notice its color and shape. What color is it? Is it uniform in color and shape? How does it feel in the hand?
As we open our food, we take a moment to smell it. Because our senses of smell and taste are so closely linked, this helps prime our tastebuds for eating.
We place one piece in our mouths and let it rest on our tongues for a moment. We pay attention to the texture of the food, and to how it tastes on different parts of our tongues.
We begin to chew. Does the food make noise when we chew it? What happens when we chew it? Do the flavors bring any food memories to mind?
As we swallow, we try to envision the food traveling down the esophagus and into the stomach.
We wait until we've finished this process, and repeat it for each bite. We always stop eating when we are satisfied, not full.
And we express gratitude for our food source. This may include thinking of the orange growers who work for our food, or the earth for allowing the oranges to grow. Some of the kids in this session talk about their gratitude for the caregivers that prepare the meals. Others are thankful for the energy that comes from healthy foods. There are no wrong answers.
As you read this, you may be thinking, "Ain't nobody got time for that!"
Yes, mindful eating is a commitment. It forces you to put down the iPhone and think about the act of eating.
I'm telling you, it is worth it. And this is not just my humble opinion--research supports this argument.
Because it helps fight stress, mindfulness is very helpful in warding off stress and emotional eating. It also helps you to be more aware of hunger and fullness, so that you are less likely to eat beyond the point of hunger (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
Mindful eating may keep you from plucking unknown quantities of sad, limp tater tots off a plastic plate and stuffing them in your mouth, even when they taste like garbage. Still, if you do end up engaging in such behavior, it also gives you the capacity to accept it, move on, and try harder next time.
I'll absolutely be posting more on how to apply mindfulness to your daily meals, but please try out the little activity from my kids' school when you have a moment. If you are a parent, try it out with your kiddos!
Happy Monday, friends!