Has COVID 19 Got You Down?

Food has been at the centre of many conversations during the past couple of months of lock-down, so much so that the joke, COVID-19, is a way of poking fun at the extra 19 pounds that everyone has gained while staying at home.

However, summer weather is coming and with it, the donning of shorts, T-shirts and heaven forbid, the dreaded bathing suit. Are you ready, or has COVID-19 got you worried?

The nasty four-letter word “diet” may be top of mind for many people as we once again emerge from our homes and shed the secure cocoons of our bulky sweaters and stretch pants.

Eating the right amount of healthy food is certainly important when it comes to losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight, but equally important to what you eat is how you eat.

Mindful eating is an effective weight-loss strategy that encourages you to slow down and savor your food. We often eat “mindlessly”. That’s to say that we shovel food into our mouths and swallow it down while being preoccupied with conversation or watching something on TV or some other devise. When you slow down and focus on your food, you may find that you need to eat less in order to feel full. Slowing down also enables your digestive system to work better.  

Here are some steps to help you get started in the right direction:

1. Before you eat, ask yourself, “How hungry am I right now? Am I eating because I’m hungry, because it’s a habit? Am I bored or eating because I’m upset?”

2. Set aside time for your meal. Don’t eat on the run. It’s best to eat when you’re relaxed and calm.

3. Avoid distractions while you eat. Turn off the TV, put your phone away and don’t eat while you’re working.

4. Appreciate your food. Start your meal by taking a moment to express your gratitude for the food in front of you. Breathe. Before and during your meal, consciously take a few deep breaths.

5. Be aware of your body when you eat. Sit in a comfortable chair – upright and not slouched over. Your digestive system works much better this way.

6. Savor small bites and chew them thoroughly. This will help you slow down and really taste the food. Eating slowly may help you notice when you are feeling satisfied so that you can stop before you have eaten too much. There is a difference between feeling that you have had just about enough to eat and feeling as though you have eaten all that you can possibly eat. One way to slow down is to consciously put your eating utensils down in between bites.

Mindful eating has been proven to help with weight loss. Having an in-the-moment awareness of how and what you eat will change your relationship with food.

Use all of your senses to observe your food. Take notice of the shape, colour and smell of the food before you put it in your mouth. When you put the first bite of food in your mouth, pause briefly before chewing and notice its taste as though it was the first time you had ever tasted it. The more often you practice engaging all of your senses, you may notice that your tastes change. You may find that foods that were once boring health foods are now very enjoyable and tasty!

Try this raisin-eating exercise to help you tune into the moment and experience mindfulness through the simple process of eating a raisin.