Putting Mindfulness on Your Plate

Have you ever looked at your plate and been surprised to find your meal gone? If so, you may benefit from eating more mindfully.

What is mindful eating? It is a purposeful awareness of the food we eat and being present during the meal experience. When we employ mindful eating, our busy lives slow down when we eat and we are aware of the flavors, tastes, and textures of the food. Our meal becomes more relaxed and enjoyable.

"Think before you eat" post-it on a plate

Here is an exercise you can do to practice mindful eating:

  1. Take a grape, piece of chocolate, or piece of cheese. Observe the appearance, shape, and texture. Notice the color and indentations.
  2. Smell the food. Notice the aroma.
  3. Take a bite or place a small amount of the food in your mouth, but do not chew it. Describe the texture and flavor before you chew the food.
  4. After 30 seconds, chew the food and describe the texture and flavor.
  5. Do you notice any difference?

Your newfound awareness can put more mindfulness on your plate.

Sources:
Today’s Dietitian; January 2019; The Merits of Mindfulness—How Mindfulness Practice Can Enhance Health and Well-Being
Today’s Dietitian; March 2013; Mindful Eating—Studies Show This Concept Can Help Clients Lose Weight and Better Manage Chronic Disease

Checklist for Selecting an Eating Plan

The claims sound believable, so it can be tempting to try the latest diet you hear about. While a diet plan may sound tempting, an eating plan should be the goal. To manage your weight and maintain a healthy nutritional status, it would be wise to consider these questions:

exercise imageQUESTION: Does the plan promise weight loss without exercise?

For most healthy adults, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends the following exercise guidelines:

  • Aerobic activity – Get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity.
  • Muscle-strengthening exercises – Two or more days per week.

Keep activity exciting by doing different things you enjoy.

 

food imageQUESTION: Are there particular foods, or food groups, excluded or consumed excessively?

Use MyPlate (www.choosemyplate.gov) to guide your food intake. All food groups are important.

 

apple imageQUESTION: Does the plan require you to purchase pills, bars, or shakes?

A sustainable eating pattern is based on food readily available in grocery stores and farmers markets.

 

scale imageQUESTION: Does the plan promise weight loss of more than 1–2 pounds per week?

Losing 1–2 pounds or less a week is gradual, healthy weight loss. Weight lost more rapidly than this tends to be regained even faster.

 

person imageQUESTION: Does the plan sound too good to be true?

If it does, it probably is.

Cleanse Diets: How to Protect Yourself from Fad Diets

diet on chalkboardIt seems as though you can’t go on Facebook or pick up a magazine without reading about how a high school classmate or a famous actress lost a lot of weight in a short amount of time by going on a “cleanse diet.” Cleanse diets claim to be a natural way to remove toxins from the body through fasting followed by a strict vegetable- and fruit-only regimen. It often includes raw vegetables, fruit juices, fruit, and water. More extreme versions of a cleanse diet entail the use of herbs and other supplements that help cleanse the colon (e.g., enemas). There is no scientific evidence that cleanse diets work to detox the body. The kidneys and liver naturally remove most of the toxins we ingest. The benefits most associated with cleanse diets may actually result from the removal of processed foods, solid fats, and added sugars from the diet. There are many concerns regarding following a cleanse diet for an extended period of time, including fatigue due to limited protein, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and dehydration.

Fad diets are popular because they promise fast results, which is why it is a billion dollar industry. It is important to remember that if you’re overweight, you didn’t put that weight on overnight and it’s unrealistic to think it can be removed overnight or in 10–20 days.

Protect yourself from fad diets by avoiding diet plans, supplements, or products that make the following claims:

1. Promise of fast weight loss: Slow and gradual weight loss is more sustainable than plans that cause drastic weight changes. A healthy weight loss plan promotes ½ to 2 pounds weekly. If you lose weight too quickly, you can lose water, muscle, and bone!

2. Quantities and limitations: Avoid diets that eliminate or severely restrict food groups. Each food group provides essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that a multivitamin cannot replace.

3. Promotes specific food combinations: There is no scientific evidence to support that eating at specific times during the day or combining certain foods will cause foods to turn to fat.

4. No need to be physically active: Physical activity is essential for good health and weight management and should be part of your daily routine.
For more information about how to better manage your weight safely, use Iowa State University Human Sciences Extension publication “How Much Are You Eating?” (PM 3024), available at https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/How-Much-Are-You-Eating.

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