Mindful eating on vacation

by Dr. Ellen Cullman, FLT Columnist

Eating on vacation doesn’t have to mean that you give up your health and well-being until you are home again. Here are three mindful-eating principles you can begin to practice while on vacation and return home feeling great too.

1. Sharpen your intention to pay attention. Intending to pay attention is the first step in mindful eating. Not only is it the first step, it is also the foundation. Mindful eating is about practicing mind-body awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations before, during, and after eating, as well as noticing environmental cues that suggest eating. Without your intention to pay attention you remain on automatic pilot when it comes to eating and may find yourself thinking, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!” So find ways to remember throughout the day to intend to pay attention.

2. Pay attention to your mind-body in the present moment. The second principle is about what you pay attention to. Our culture has become one of diet recommendations that tend to classify food as either “good” or “bad.” While these recommendations are well meaning, the consequence is that you become cognitively trained to focus on a mental overlay about food and completely miss or discredit most of the mind-body cues and sensations you are experiencing in the present moment. When you pay attention to your mind-body in the present moment you won’t find yourself saying, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!” You will either not eat the whole thing or you will believe you ate the whole thing!

3. Pay attention to your physical cues and sensory experiences of hunger and fullness. These two sensations are your initial roadmap to eating healthfully. More than anything else, your awareness of them will help you to learn to trust your body’s signals of when it wants you to eat and when it wants you to stop. True hunger and fullness are instinctual experiences that many people are out of touch with yet all naturally felt and responded to when they were babies and young children. The good news is that you can learn to notice your hunger and fullness sensations and respond appropriately to them again!

Practice these principles on your vacation and bring initial mindful eating skills home with you.  It won’t cost a thing!

Email Dr. Cullman your mindful-eating question for an upcoming column. The Fall Mindful Eating Workshop begins on September 6 at 975 Commerce Dr. in Perrysburg. Call 419-494-7699 or email mindfuleatingcoach@gmail.com  for information or to schedule an appointment, workshop, presentation or seminar with The Mindful Eating Coach.