The days are shorter, the leaves are turning colors, and the temperature is falling (well, we live in Texas so maybe not that last part). With the change in the season comes a change in routine – school starts, sports seasons pick-up and before you know it, it’s the holiday season. That first sign of change comes with football season. If you’re like me, football is in your blood and the weekend revolves around sports and tailgates. For some people, they throw their willpower out of the window and tailgating (or other parties) becomes an excuse to eat anything and everything. But, just because we are spending more time in front of the T.V. and around game-day foods doesn’t mean we need to put our health and fitness goals on the sideline. For many people, learning to eat mindfully removes the stress of eating at social events, and helps them keep their health and fitness in check.
What does it mean to eat mindfully? Mindful eating means being more aware of the entire eating experience: physical hunger; what you’re eating; why you’re eating; the taste, smell, feel, sight and sound of the food; your satiety; and how the food makes you feel. It also means focusing on the eating experience without judgement. Eating mindfully takes time and practice – there is no right or wrong way to do it, but it does help you stay in control of your eating experience and your health overall. So, where do you begin? A good place to start is to learn how to assess hunger and satiety. The hunger scale is a scale of 1-10 that helps you become more in tune with your physical hunger cues. As children, we are usually in tune with these cues. But, as we grow up, our eating becomes restricted due to time constraints, busyness or dieting, and we begin to tune these cues out.
Use this hunger scale during your next social event to help you enjoy your food and eat more mindfully. Evaluate where you are on the scale before you eat; check in a few times while you’re eating, and re-evaluate when you’re done eating.