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Robin D. Stone is a New York City based psychotherapist, coach and consultant who works to help you achieve your most optimal self. 

Posts tagged mindful eating
What We Can Learn from Hunger
 

Do you ever eat because you’re bored, stressed, you deserve it, because everybody else is eating, or simply because “it’s time?” 

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What about because you’re hungry?

Few of us eat because we’re hungry because we rarely feel hunger these days. With constant grazing, we’re eating from the time we wake up until the time we lie down.  We’re eating midnight snacks and 6 a.m. bagels. We’re eating while watching TV and while commuting. We’re on everybody else’s schedule but our own body’s.

And often, if we’re eating while in motion or otherwise occupied, we aren’t really mindful of how much we’re eating, or even the quality of what we’re eating. Ever down a bag of chips in the car the and then head straight to the fridge for dinner once you get home? You’re no longer hungry, but it’s “time” to eat.

Some of us, who may have a history of not having enough food to eat, may eat to avoid the emotional triggers that feeling hungry might produce. We may be eating more than we should because we “deserve” it. 

Unless you’re aware of these dynamics, you can’t address them.

Hunger, in fact is a useful sensation, as this registered dietitian explains. It signals to our body that it’s time to eat. When we eat for reasons other than hunger, we’re often taking in more calories than our bodies can use.

But how do you know when you’re really hungry? As she notes, a Hunger Scale can help you get in touch with your body’s needs. Here’s how it works: Your internal scale prompts you to eat when you are “pleasantly hungry” but not starving, and to stop when you are “pleasantly full” but not stuffed.

But before you get on that scale, you might want to spend a few days simply monitoring and noting when you eat, what you eat and why. Note how often you eat because you are truly hungry. And the true reasons you eat when you aren’t. Be honest, and gentle, with yourself.

And when you’re ready, allow yourself the sensation of feeling hungry. So that when you sit down with your appetite (and pretty food on the plate, a fork, a knife, a napkin, no TV, no distractions), you savor your food for all of its goodness – and all of the good it does you.

 
13 for 13: Weight-Loss Resolutions You Can Live With
 

If each year around this time you’ve resolved to lose weight … again … only to rebound within a month or a few, try this approach instead:

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1. Resolve NOT to "diet."  Most people think of dieting as something they do temporarily to lose weight quickly. Most who lose weight this way re-gain it once they stop dieting. This "cycling," or yo-yo dieting, can put you at greater risk for heart disease, among other health risks. Think of changing the way you eat not as a temporary fix but as your new approach to taking better care of yourself. So consider these other resolutions:

2. Resolve to eat more real food. Most packaged foods are full of additives and preservatives that you don’t need and that force your body to work overtime to process them. Stick with whole fruits and veggies, meats, grains, nuts and legumes.

3. Resolve to figure out why you turn to ice cream (or candy bars or potato chips or … ) when you’re feeling challenged or stressed. We all do it. Mindful eating can help you understand how to see food more for nourishment and enjoyment, and less for stress-relief.

4. Resolve to drink more water.  Aim for at least 8 cups a day. Water helps our bodies function, flushing toxins, fueling cells, nourishing tissues. We are made up of 60 percent water, and what we lose through perspiring, breathing and eliminating, we need to replace.

5. Resolve to cleanse your life of toxic relationships. They can lead to stress … which leads to … see No. 3.

6. Resolve to move your body till you work up a sweat for at least 30 minutes at least three times a week. Who says you have to spend hours at the gym? That 30 minutes can be as effective as 60.  

7. Resolve to prepare your own meals one day more a week. Eating in can save you money, give you control of the ingredients, increase family time (enlist the help of others) support the environment and provide other benefits to you, those you love and society at large. After a month, resolve to cook two days more a week, and then more, until you’re eating homemade food at least 4 out of 7 days.

8. Resolve to not eat for 12 hours overnight. Let’s say 7:30 p.m. is your cutoff. That means nothing but water till 7:30 a.m. This mini fast gives your body a chance to process what’s already there and take a break before it’s time to start up again. And it helps you steer clear of calorie-laden late-night snacks. A good helping of protein for dinner will keep you feeling full.

9. Resolve to track your habits. Hold a mirror up so you can see where your trouble spots are. There are several programs available, many of them free. I use My Fitness Pal because it’s quick and easy.  It shows me that I eat way too much sugar. So I’m much more mindful of that.

10. Resolve to track your steps. Use a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps (about 5 miles) per day.

11. Resolve not to go back to what you were doing that got you into whatever size you’re in. The longer you keep the weight off, the easier it gets to do so.

12. Resolve to take the long view. Safe, lasting weight loss doesn’t happen in an instant and it’s not dramatic, but when it’s gone -- and when you stick with your new habits -- it’s gone.

13. Resolve to start now.

Trying to figure out where to start? Contact me at robin@healthjones.com

 
Honoring Your Food-Mood Connection
 

I look forward to summer holidays because they remind me of family gatherings back home in Detroit. And of course at the centerpiece of every family gathering is food. 

Whether it was for a house party or a picnic in the park, summer meant aunts and uncles and cousins showcasing their special dishes, all made with love: we’d have potato salad, macaroni salad, greens, baked beans, often a seven-layer salad, a pound cake, a pie (with vanilla ice cream, of course), barbecued ribs, chicken, steak and burgers, and my favorite, hot dogs. I loved hot dogs so much that I would bypass all other meats glistening in barbecue sauce (fresh lemon juice and onions made it tangy, sweet and pungent all at the same time) and make a bee-line for the franks. I took mine smothered in sauce and topped with mustard and relish, in a soft, spongy bun. No matter what else he was “burnin’,” one of my uncles, aka the Grill Master, would make sure to throw some dogs on just for me. 

Times have definitely changed – I can’t remember the last time I’ve eaten pork or beef, and haven’t had a hot dog in some years. I didn’t wake up one day and swear off meat, but over time, as I gravitated toward cleaner eating with more fruit veggies on my plate, my taste buds changed. A client asked recently, “You mean you never crave a hamburger?” “Never,” I responded. And I meant it. 

But this Memorial weekend, home was calling – maybe it was knowing that my little sister was in Detroit visiting the fam while I stayed put in NYC. So I decided to inaugurate summer with an homage to home. 

I’ll grill anything – I once made a shrimp-veggie stir-fry over charcoal. During a power outage some years ago, to my son’s delight, I grilled his pancakes. Yesterday I grilled chicken, turkey burgers, turkey chipotle sausage, and yes, turkey hot dogs. Once all the meat was done, I threw on some corn on the cob – after opening each ear slightly, removing some of the silk, and soaking in water about 15 minutes. Nothing says summer like fresh grilled corn. I made a potato salad, some veggie-baked beans and a green salad. I finished it all off with an apple pie. 

We’re usually a super-healthy food zone. My kids (my 15-year-pld son and my 22-year-old niece who lives with us – and therefore, at least temporarily, is my kid) often tease that the foods I prepare are too healthy for their tastes. “Mom, why don’t we eat like normal people?” My son often asks. I’m known for fruit smoothies for breakfast and hearty salads with salmon or shrimp for lunch, and I’d much rather “oven-fry” my chicken than pan fry it. But the kids usually eat everything I make and even concede that it’s pretty good. 

Every once in a while, though, I loosen my apron strings and reach for the foods that tug at my heart strings. It’s good to recognize how our emotions (from boredom to sadness to a longing for the good old days) often drive our cravings for some foods. Once we’re mindful of powerful mood-food connections, we can find healthy ways to go with, and not fight those cravings. 

Our menu this weekend was full of forbidden stuff for many who are counting calories, sugar and fat grams. But unless you’re on a medically restrictive plan, if you eat healthy and clean at least 90 percent of the time, it’s OK to splurge the other 10 percent of the time. Just don’t try to fool yourself into thinking that 50 percent is 10 percent – your waistband will be your reality check. 

This weekend we feasted (the leftovers are just as grand), and the kids were quite content. I’ll freeze some for quick and easy meals later. Soon enough the dogs will be gone and we’ll be back to 90 percent. But for the moment, we’ll enjoy this first taste of summer, and special taste of home. 

Have a Healthy Day, 
Robin