Watch Your Mouth

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Every since I went cheatin’ vegan back in June of 2008, I’ve been paying an immense amount of attention to everything that goes in my mouth (that’s what she said). I dropped meat and meat products from my diet (though I still eat fish in a pinch), and boy can I tell you that it’s exhausting to eat outside my home. I had no idea how many things have cream in them!

Why did I make the switch? It wasn’t out of some altruistic need to protect the animals; I had already read all the books and seen all the movies that were supposed to put me off eating things that died on the killing floor, and I’m writing this from my modern leather couch. I was really worried about how the food I was eating made me feel. The chicken made me sluggish, the dairy made me gassy and mucus-y, and who knows what the pesticides on all that non-organic fruit was doing to me. So I gave it all up for what I consider to be a more mindful way of eating, and no matter how many annoying questions I have to ask waiters, I stick with it, because I love how my body runs now.

But it’s still a lot of work. When people hear what I (don’t) eat, they say two things: “How do you get your protein?” (Mostly beans and whole grains, some soy and fish.) And “Man, that sounds hard!” The results of a new study show that mindful eating really is hard. While only 18% of us classify ourselves as mindless eaters and most of us (79%) think we have a healthy relationship with food, we’re actually doing a great job of shoveling in the food with little thought to the consequences, which explains why 73% of adults are overweight or obese. And it’s not about eating organic foods or skipping meats, it’s about choosing whole foods (such as fruits and veggies) over processed ones (I’m looking at you, yummy Flamin’ Hot Cheetos), and taking the time to enjoy our food and stop when we’re full, rather than eating so quickly that we don’t put down our fork until we finish our meal (seriously, the study found that three in ten people do this.)

So my challenge to us all this week is to really think about everything we pick up before we put it in our mouths. I’m not suggesting that you to obsess—that’s ridiculously unhealthy—but just consider what it will do to your body and how it will make you feel physically and emotionally before you eat it. Even if you still decide to eat the doughnuts this time, you’ll be one step closer to being healthier (and happier) in your skin!

What mindful eating techniques do you use? Don’t buy into all this crap? Tell me about it!


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Last 5 posts by kenrya

  • Nay

    Great post, Kenrya. I am trying to be more mindful by buying more whole foods and keeping a stocked pantry of things that I can use to make many different types of meals from scratch. While some may think that cooking the old-fashioned way isn’t worth the time, I find that not only is it less expensive and more healthy than processed foods, but it also tastes better! I have also been reading a lot of labels and I am shocked by the sugar and sodium content. I recently looked at a can (not a bottle, a can!) of Pepsi and it had 41g of sugar. Yuck. How can I ban fruit juice from the household because I think it has too much sugar for the kids (at something like 27g per serving) and then turn around and gulp down a sugary mess like that? Just yesterday I was looking at a box of dried, flavored potatoes and the sodium content was 560mg of sodium for some ridiculous serving size like a 1/2 cup. I decided to pass and get some plain potatoes instead.

    I know I have a long way to go, but I am becoming more aware of how I can make conscious decisions that will benefit my family in the long run.

  • Tina

    Thanks for sharing your personal food successes and struggles! My method these days is simple: fruits, grains, veggies and no meat between 9a-5p. For dinner, I incorporate something cooked… these days, fish, couscous/rice and veggies. Water all day- no fruit juices/soda. Weekends… I have a little fun and down a few beers, eat too much cheese and … pay for it all on Monday 🙂 I call myself, “in progress!” lol

    Seriously- it’s hard when you don’t live near a decent grocery store. None in my neighborhood sell anything organic. So, I have to make a commitment to grocery shop for the week or else it’s all down hill… I also try to do some yoga regularly- you notice you are what you eat when you’re all curled up and gassy in a class full of strangers! 🙂

  • Yahaira

    It is a struggle to eat out! and I eat chicken and turkey. Unlike you I just give up when I go out! I don’t ask too many questions, the only one I still ask is about cream,or cheese because I just don’t feel like paying for it later. I do eat mostly home cooked food, but I can’t say that its all healthy either, I do plan to make fried plantains later. They are healthier baked but I have to wait a few days to be able to bake them and I want some today! Patience…that may be my issue. Over eating might also be a bit of an issue for me specially in the winter.

  • Julie

    Great topic!
    i try not to eat crap, i’m lucky i’m not a junk-food lover, i almost never eat fried food cuz it makes me feel yaky, and I love my chicken and my dark chocolate.

    But I do mind what goes in to my mouth, lol.
    I try my best to buy organic and clean produce, i am actually allergic to pesticides, so i can’t eat every fruit that looks pretty. It is def a challenge and it is more expensive, but i do feel good when I eat good food.

  • Jessica

    I appreciate the post–a lot …but feel like it is merely the baby steps to truly mindful eating.

    Aside from being conscious about what we put in our mouths — or if you are really aware — of how it affects our bodies (like you so insight-fully noted), there are other aspects that constitute mindful eating. In today’s globalized world of hustle and bustle we have forgotten that food was also about community, about sharing meals with friends and family, setting down the fork to converse, and giving thanks. I recognize that that is not a viable option for many of us and certainly having dinner parties can’t be a nightly occurrence… however, we can plan for one monthly and in the in between when we sit down to eat (at least the largest meal of the day) we can turn off the tv, the cell phone, the blackberry, and gather the family (or even if you are alone) to just be present and thankful.

    Continuing on that line of community, we were once also more connected to the producers of our food. In the states at least there is an explosion of farmers’ markets that sell not only organic fresh goodies, but hopefully LOCAL organic fresh goodies… and the interaction allows you to connect with the people who bring food to our table and nourish our bellies Without them… there is no us.