The holidays are a time when the focus is about getting lost in all the food, right? Well, that could spell disaster for our health if we’re not mindful. What I’m diving into this week is how you can guide your mind when you’re working on losing weight or have trouble knowing what to eat.
I’m sharing some insight as to why mindful eating doesn’t come to us naturally, and how I’ve implemented fuel eating and joy eating into my everyday life. It’s time to drop all the food drama going on in your brain about what to eat and when to eat it. Practicing mindful eating is going to take all of that out and help better your relationship with food.
Join me this week as we explore mindful eating and all its benefits. Mindful eating is the first building block in creating a self-care system that works for you so start honoring your body’s feedback with all the tips I’m sharing today.
Welcome to Weight Loss for CEOs. A podcast that teaches executives and leaders how to deal with the unique challenges of achieving sustainable weight loss while balancing the responsibility of a growing company, family, and their own health. Here’s your host, executive coach, Diana Murphy.
I hope you’re listening to this podcast on Monday when I drop my podcast, or thereabout because I want to wish you a happy New Year as we embark upon New Year’s Day. I am so excited for 2019. I hope you are.
I just finished planning my entire next 90 days and giving some thoughts to reviewing my past year and I’m thrilled about what I’ve created through this podcast and the other coaching I’ve done, but I am even more excited about next year. So hang in there and look for some great new things from my podcast as well as in my work.
I’m thoroughly enjoying laying down this mindset series for you. I’m focusing on some of the most important ways to guide your mind when you’re working on losing weight or working on dropping that struggle. The yo-yo experience you might be having with your weight.
It’s a bonus for me because I feel like I’m giving myself a boost during the holidays by reminding myself to eat mindfully, to just pay attention. And this is during a season when the focus is getting lost on food, right? I’m going to dig into the topic of mindful eating, how to do it, and why it’s so important.
This is for emotional eaters, but also for those that eat on the fly or those that just want to feel much better by taking great care of themselves around food. Why is mindful eating a skill? Why don’t we do it naturally? Because we’re human. There are parts of our brains that were designed for fight or flight, that just aren’t necessary anymore.
Our brain that’s always seeking safety and comfort, you know like mac and cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches. Comfort food. Also, we were designed to eat food any time food was available because long ago, and many talk about caveman days, but even think about most of our human history, the access to food was really pretty sporadic.
And I don’t need to tell you how overly available food is for us now. You know, Uber doesn’t just deliver human beings to where they need to go. It delivers food, among all the other delivery services. When you really think about it, it’s pretty wild, isn’t it?
So food is always available but we aren’t always hungry, so that’s what this episode is about, to really get in control. The way that I define mindful eating is staying present when you decide what you eat while you’re eating, and noticing how your body responds to the food after you eat and between those meals.
It’s going to be really explaining why mindful eating is important, and I want to let you know why I do think it is important enough to base most of coaching practice on these tools. Now, don’t get me started here. I might hop on my soapbox, but there are just a few reasons our body’s feedback won’t guide us wrong.
It’s calming and it’s one of the easiest ways to take care of your physical body in a life-giving way without thinking about it all the time. Mindful eating also takes the judgment piece out of it for us, and I’m raising my hand here. I spent most of my life deciding whether foods were good or bad. And so mindful eating really helps that part of the struggle in our relationship with food.
Even if your relationship with food is pretty healthy, the media message is the ideas, the studies, the information on what we should be eating is overwhelming. And it is giving us decision paralysis so listen to me here. Mindfulness around food without any judgment is magic.
Eating your fuel, eating to your appetite, the cadence of when you’re hungry during the day and learning the way that your body loves to be fueled, it’s everything. Hopping off my soapbox now. Let me show you how.
So during the episode, I’m going to give you some very simple ways to start your mindful eating journey. And if you do want to dig in deeper, remember, dig into the earlier episode and start with episode 001 titled Step 1.
Mindful eating in the way I describe it is fuel eating, but mindful eating is also the practice of checking in and seeing what your body needs during the day when you’re deciding to eat. And it’s deciding what you need in terms of rest and exercise, but we’re really not going to cover those today. We’re really going to focus on the food.
Because when we start there, it creates a beautiful building block. Because if you can be mindful around food and start with food, it can bleed into deciding how to workout, deciding what workouts are yours, and also, many other things in your lives. This is a practice of really honoring kind of a centering space in your life.
Start with the food, but use this for practicing all your self-care. In my intuitive eating practice, there are four ways I describe in terms of the type of eating. Fuel eating, joy eating, storm eating, and fog eating. And for today’s purposes, we’re only going to talk about establishing fuel eating and joy eating.
Both of them when practiced mindfully really solve a lot of the other issues. But as I wrote this podcast, it really ended up being two, so stay tuned for a full description and a full explanation of how to handle fog eating. You know, like, eating behind your back, or storm eating, and that will be emotional eating but strong emotional eating.
Alright, let’s get started on fuel and joy. Fuel eating is when we eat what we know works for us. Lean and green most of the time. Fresh fruit and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy grains. It’s personal in terms of some of the food categories, but in general, it is eating the healthy, fresh stuff.
The majority of our eating should be in this category. Next, one of my favorites, and I bet it might be yours, is joy eating. The food might be fuel, but it’s special. Like I do have some joy foods that are fuel for me. Sushi is an example of one of those. It’s definitely my fuel but because it can be expensive when you purchase the good stuff, it’s joy food for me.
You know, I’m kind of a sushi snob. But joy food is any food that isn’t fully fuel for you like a hamburger or French fries or your favorite restaurant, French, Mexican food, or yummy pastries and desserts. We should be eating joy food a small percentage of the time and I really mean should. But I find when we lean in and choose items that we really crave once in a while and plan for them, it can be amazing.
And I know when I’m intentional about planning joy eats, or joy food eating or joy eating, it’s much easier for me to eat well the rest of the time. In fact, as I wrote this episode, I really realized that both joy eating and fuel eating are mindful eating. They are eating on purpose. They are enjoying food for the pleasurable thing that it is in our lives.
Fuel eating and joy eating are always planned ahead of time. I hope that got your attention because a lot of our joy eating comes kind of last minute, and that isn’t joy eating. That’s fog eating, but I’ll get to that in the next episode.
Fuel eating requires thoughtful planning on getting fresh food in the house and choosing restaurants that honor your fuel. But joy eating, when we plan ahead, not on the fly, is powerful as I mentioned. Our body remembers this great food experience we create. We can savor it and it dials down the desire conversations because we’re satisfying our brain for pleasure.
Our brain loves pleasure and those dopamine hits of sugary, floury, high fat items really load up our brain. And so giving ourselves some space to really decide ahead of time and to plan for it can really be a beautiful, powerful, in control way to enjoy those foods.
The resources in today’s episode will lay out all the exercises and steps. In fact, my favorite is the joy eating exercise. It’s right there in the show notes. You’ll learn so much. Catch what you need at dianamurphycoaching.com/CEO13. This is your lucky 13th episode.
Again, the goal in pursuit of healthy mindful eating comes with a high percentage of fuel eating but also the practice of adding some special joy eats. Deciding ahead of time is a powerful way to think about this. And both types of eating are fully lined up with the hunger scale.
We never eat past plus two and whether it’s fuel or joy, and call that mindful eating. And there’s nothing wrong with eating past those two, but mindful eating is slowly calmly stopping when we’re full. I want to stop here and give you the mental steps to start practicing this in your life.
In the moment and during the days, I want you to decide, notice, and then as you look back, look for your response. And I’ll explain. This is what the response piece of this practice is more of a helicopter approach, looking at the scheme of things in a week’s time of getting feedback in a longer-range view, but deciding and noticing is all in that moment and during the day.
Decide. Decide when to eat and what to eat based on all of these decisions on your body’s feedback and answering these questions. Am I hungry? I know you’ve heard it before if you’re a listener, but listen here. This is so important and so grounding. Check in throughout the day with just the question, am I hungry, especially if you’re busy.
Even set a timer if you’re likely to wait too long to eat. If the answer is yes, I’m hungry, you may be hungry at times that it’s not really meal time. And you might not be hungry at times that others are eating. But being brave enough to honor when you are truly hungry and eat slowly is absolutely key.
So again, asking throughout the day, deciding only to eat when you’re hungry by asking, am I hungry. Okay, what do we do if you’re not hungry but about to go into long meeting and you’re likely to be hungry during that meeting? Have a healthy bar on hand in case you get hungry.
Or what do you do if you’re not hungry and everybody’s going out for lunch? Nibble on something small and fuel-filled. What is most surprising and somewhat bad news for most of us when we do this practice, when we follow our true appetite, we really don’t need that much food. Darn it.
But honoring when we are hungry helps us to stay in control and eat fuel without all the drama. Do you tend to put it off and wait too long to eat? And then find yourself grabbing something and it’s not fuel because the pressure to eat has gotten so big?
It’s so common. So this checking in throughout the day can be really helpful if that’s you. The powerful key to all this is to honor true hunger, eat and savor your food, stop when you’re lightly full. This helps to drop the drama of all the decision-making.
And I’m not talking about taking a lot more time to eat and enjoy your meals. I’m just talking about mindfully checking in, eating when you’re hungry, and letting not only your body calm down but eat your meal to calm down your brain.
This can be done in 10 to 15 minutes if needed. I find it can be just that refresh break that my brain needs when I’m digging in and working. It’s so helpful. So the next question is what am I hungry for? Another decision point.
The question once you practiced if you’re hungry is to dig into what are you hungry for. This is developing trust that your body not only knows when you need fuel but what fuel might be needed in that meal. This is so powerful. If I really stop and ask what I really am hungry for, I can tell whether I should have a salad or a neat grain bowl with avocados and vegetables, without protein or whether I might need steak or some other type of lean protein, or just a bowl of soup.
We can’t always choose exactly what we most want, especially if we’re cooking, if someone else is cooking for us or if we’re out eating. But most times we can. The goal here is eating our fuel but also eating from that fuel list, eating what our body needs today or in that meal.
For example, in a week where I have not been weightlifting much, I crave vegetables and light protein. But when I’ve lifted two or three days and added a high intensity workout, I notice that my body will crave a steak meal somewhere in there or a lean hamburger.
I don’t plan this. This isn’t planning ahead of time. It’s responding to when your body gets what I call almost bone hungry, where you really know that you’re craving protein. Now, this takes a little bit of practice, but I have loved honoring what my body really is saying it wants.
You know, I’ve noticed this after the fact and this whole idea that when I workout more, that I need more protein. So I don’t plan ahead of time like I don’t say because I’ve worked out so hard this week, I’m going to have a steak. But I do notice that during those weeks, that usually comes up.
And it’s given me more insight that I can honor my appetite. It’s encouraged me to always listen in and honor what I am hungry for. I literally open a menu, I go, “What am I hungry for?” not like, what do I want because I always want the grilled cheese sandwich.
And there are some times I have that. That might be a joy eat for me, but I will really ask what am I hungry for and it won’t be what I usually order on that menu. It won’t be I should eat this because. It is what is my body really hungry for right now and is it even hungry.
Alright, so start with, “Am I hungry?” Lay that down for some time, then dig into the what and fine tune this process. It’s the magic of staying in rhythm with your body’s true appetite and it is the key in helping us to drop excess weight or to maintain it once we’ve lost the weight or just want to stay healthy and be energized.
So that’s the decide step. It is really asking if you just wrote down, “Am I hungry? And what am I hungry for?” and practiced those throughout the days, you’d lay down a very, very big piece of mindful eating. But there’s more.
Notice is the next step, and it really isn’t an additional step. But the added checking in after you’ve eaten the meal, see how your body responds. This is confirming the fuel choices that you’ve made. Especially when you’re trying something new, this is really important.
Notice how your body responds. Do you have good energy after that meal? Are you satisfied or sated for a good period of time? I would say at least two to three hours until the next meal. And where you able to honor your fullness when you ate that food?
These are beautiful insights on whether the food you ate was your fuel. This is deciphering the “good for you” ideas in the world, and then checking in to see if they are your fuel for your choices. There’s great information out there. I love finding out about new foods and sharing nutritional content and telling us what to eat. But I always test it against the notice part of being mindful.
For example, oatmeal is a healthy grain, especially if it’s steel cut. But for me, when I eat it in the morning, I am hungry within the hour. And I’ve noticed this food just does not work for me most times. Good to know. So I don’t make oatmeal a regular food on my grocery list or in my life.
But remember, no harm is done is that’s the only healthy choice when I’m about to get on an airplane for example and I’m going to be on that airplane for three hours and have no idea what food is available. This is an important step in this. We don’t need to be perfect. This is all about honoring our fuel as often as we can. Not perfection.
Last but not least, response. After honoring our hunger and noticing how it feels after the meal is key. But also seeing how the way that we’re eating is really working, especially depending on your goals. This is how we can use the scale and I’m not talking about the hunger scale. I’m talking the weigh your body scale.
Using the scale to check in with how foods are really working for us at a deeper level. This can also be a physical response. Like watching the response of feeling bloated for a few days after when you eat something regularly.
These are some of the questions. I want to give you an idea of what I’m talking about here. For example, do you notice that it’s difficult to lose weight when you enjoy wine or alcohol more often? Or even desserts more frequently? Just even if it’s just a bite?
Or do you feel uncomfortable on the weeks that you have had more dairy? Or did you gain weight and notice that that’s what happened when you had oatmeal every day? This is checking in like a curious scientist and looking back over the week or the month and figuring out what really works.
When I lost my weight for good, I noticed that the weeks that I had had wine twice, I wouldn’t lose much weight. Like point two pounds on the scale. Yeah, Weight Watchers dealt with decimals, people.
Okay, but if I had wine once a week, I lost weight consistently. Okay, so wine at that point in my life wasn’t a no. It’s more of a no now, but now as I’ve dug into fuel testing, I don’t love how my body responds to wine. You’ve heard that conversation.
And I choose bourbon. Okay, last night it was tequila. But I pay attention to the sugary mixers because I know that that doesn’t work. The sugar just does not work for me. It gives me more of a headache and I might choose it in desserts and other things but around alcohol, it just is a no-no. My body doesn’t respond as negatively when I choose a fresh cocktail or a sip of bourbon versus wine.
And this is true. I just can’t handle the sugary mixers. It’s not just the alcohol. And it took a lot of testing to figure this out. You know, in a lot of ways, I was really groggy this morning. I’m kind of over the alcohol part. Stay tuned on that one.
But for each of us, I just want to encourage you, you do not need to stop all the non-fuel things in your life. When you look in a long-term way, look how the scale responds. Look how you feel over a period of time. Look at your energy levels. Look at the response long-term. This is the airplane view.
Really see what works for you. You do not have to be perfect or cut things out totally to have the results you want in terms of weight loss and other areas in your life. There are so many benefits to eating mindfully. You’ll get better energy, you will lower your food distractions. You won’t always be asking what should I eat, what’s going to work on my diet. You’re going to be building confidence so you know.
You’re going to drop the drama around food. Practice this for a week or two. I’m watching a new client that started working with me in November and already, there’s just not any drama around food. She’s dug in on paying attention when she’s hungry and with very, very small steps and it’s been very powerful for her.
It just encourages me every single time I see somebody new approaching these tools give all of this a whirl. The other thing when we mindfully eat is it calms the body down. I know for me, I have more creative energy and when I stop during the day, I get refreshed.
And this is all about even a 15-minute boring lunch meal, which is like basically lettuce wrap sandwiches and avocado. That 15-minutes of just giving myself time to mindfully eat restores me for the afternoon of coaching. It’s just fabulous. Very simple steps.
Remember, mindfully tuning into your body is all I’m asking here, all I’m teaching. Mindful eating also for those of you that find you have seasons of yo-yoing, this is the beauty of keeping your weight off. This is where you calm down more around food and don’t notice as much of that gaining two pounds on a weekend and then having to lose those every week.
And this is the baseline for losing weight. Mindful eating is the key to losing weight for good. You’re going to find foods that you absolutely love, and it’s no longer going to be about a diet or restriction. It’s going to be about calmly eating the foods that just light up your body that feel good.
What about snacking or eating when you’re bored or not being able to stop when we know that we’re full? I’ve saved that for you in my next episode where I dig into how we might be overeating and what to do about it. I’ll see you there.
My friends, have a wonderful, wonderful New Year’s. I’m wishing you the most mindful, for sure, and the best 2019 ever. See you next week.
Thank you for listening to this episode of Weight Loss for CEOs. If you enjoyed this episode and want more, visit dianamurphycoaching.com for Diana’s latest free coaching tools to get started losing weight without having to start a diet now.