We live in a society that is very fast paced, focused on productivity, and there is often something that is demanding our attention. While we may complete important tasks throughout the day or make valuable decisions, some of the value and perceived importance of these actions is lost with the sheer number of action items and other tasks that can be done. This can leave little time to be fully involved in the decision-making process and to reflect on actions completed. This can be beneficial for menial tasks and monotonous work, but when attempting to adopt healthier lifestyle choices, it is vital to be an active participant in our decisions.
When establishing new behaviors, we must stay present. If we are not, we will likely slip back into previous habits or give in to the whims of our thoughts or emotions. This can be very true when it comes to our food choices. When establishing new eating patterns or seeking to better yourself through nutrition, you must be an active participant in your food choices. We choose to eat for many different reasons including physical hunger, emotions, cravings, and out of practicality.
So, next time you want to have something to eat, take a second to reflect on why you want that specific food item. Are you physically hungry? Are you bored? Did you have a stressful day at work? These can all be valid reasons to cause us to want to eat. But when trying to better ourselves, it is important to make these distinctions when breaking the cycle of previous food habits. Just like any other skill, it takes time and practice to master. This new year, try some of these techniques to practice mindfulness in your everyday life and see the impact it can have on your nutritional practices.
How to practice mindfulness and being present
While exercising, focus on your form to ensure you are doing things correct. Focus on the movement of your body, paying attention to how it feels. Become fully involved in the exercise that you choose to do. This is a form of being present; many of us may already do it. By making more of a conscious effort to do this while exercise gives us more practice.
Mindfulness meditation is a great option for those individuals who are always moving, busy, or have trouble making time for more traditional forms of meditation. Mindfulness meditation focuses on slowing down your thoughts, keeping yourself grounded in the present moment, and bringing you into your body and all of your senses.
If you see, hear, or think of something that evokes an emotional response try to understand why it made you feel that way. In your head, walk through the situation that led up to your response. Think about what ideas, morals, or notions that this event either goes against or supports and why that is important to you.
Steven Tsaparikos, RDN, BS Dietetics
Hancock Wellness Center – New Palestine