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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