Journey To Healthy Eating 2017: December Edition

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Well, here we are. It’s December and the final month in the Journey To Healthy Eating Challenge. Before I get into what the last healthy eating goal is, let’s review a little about last month.

November’s healthy eating goal was to Eat To Lower Blood Pressure. While not everyone has high blood pressure, the dietary strategies proven to lower hypertension (and lower risk of hypertension) are solid nutrition recommendations that most everyone can benefit from.

In a nutshell, a diet that lowers high blood pressure is rich in potassium, magnesium and calcium, and low in sodium. This translates to a diet that limits salty, convenience foods and includes:

  • Ample vegetables and fruit (but typically more veggies than fruit)
  • Nuts and seeds (unsalted)
  • Legumes
  • Dairy (specifically fluid milk) and other sources of dietary calcium

For more information about foods that have been shown to lower blood pressure, check out 6 Science-Backed Ways To Lower Blood Pressure With Diet.

NOW ONTO DECEMBER’S CHALLENGE…

Kate Chury RD NW Calgary Dietitian

This month I’ve decided to change up my focus a bit. Rather than talk about specific foods, I’d like to talk a little about mindful eating. So instead of challenging ourselves to have an outside focus (a food/nutrient), I’d like this month’s goal to be an inward focus.

December tends to be a big month for food (and food stress). It is a month of holidays and celebration. With it comes a plethora of parties with rich foods, work spaces inundated with treats and generous culinary gifts. It can seem like no matter where you look, food and drinks are abundant. So, rather than focusing on improving nutrition, this month I plan to look inward and encourage mindfulness when it comes to eating. Sometimes how one eats is just as important as what one eats. 

Many people have negative emotions around eating, whether they are aware of them or not. This could be a result of spending years dieting or just being bombarded by diet culture itself. As a result, a disconnect often forms between how we feel and how we feed our body. Diet culture builds distrust, specifically a distrust of our own body and its needs. The latest “fad diet” doesn’t tell us to trust our hunger but rather to distrust it. Mindful eating is about dropping all of this and letting go of all of the criticism and self-judgement around eating. Mindful eating is ultimately about reconnecting with yourself and accepting the enjoyment and nourishment that food can provide.

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Why?

There are a number of reasons why mindful eating may be right for you, including: 

  • To gain trust of your body and its ability to know what it needs.
  • To take an inventory of feelings and emotions that arise around eating.
  • To trust your body’s hunger and fullness cues (and, perhaps, re-learn them).
  • To stop fearing foods.
  • To understand that food is just food (it should not lead to guilt or shame).
  • To begin enjoying food again (if this pleasure has been lost).
  • To stop thinking of food as calories or in “macros”. Food is more than this.
  • To understand how outside forces (our environment, our thoughts, other people) influence our eating.
  • To realize and accept that there is no one perfect way to eat.
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How?

I think it’s important to realize that any mindful practice (including mindful eating), is just that - it’s a practice. It won’t come automatically but after some time it can develop. Here are a few ways that someone new to mindful eating can begin to develop this awareness:

  • Eat without distraction. This means no phones, no television, no getting lost in a book. Turn away from all outside distractions and focus on your food. This will help you begin to really take note of the physical experience of eating. Focus on the taste, texture, and smells of your food. This could be done with something as simple as a cup of hot tea, or even a sweet, crunchy apple. What do you notice when you really pay attention?
  • Taking note of emotions that arise while eating. Try keeping a journal and reflect upon your emotions before and after meals. Do emotions change before and after meals? Do you notice any trends?
  • Are you a speed eater? Try slowing down your meals just a bit. If lunch takes you 10 minutes to eat, try extending it to 15, then 20 minutes. Do you notice anything different when you slow down? How does your body feel?
  • Take time to investigate your hunger. Keep a journal and take note of hunger during the day, before meals and after meals. Rate your hunger and fullness (you can use a hunger meter like this). Take note of anything you notice. When are you eating? How satisfied are you after meals? Do you every eat until you feel uncomfortable?

Any one of these activities would be a good place to start if you are interested in becoming more mindful with your eating. Stay tuned on the Facebook page for more links to mindful eating articles and exercises. 

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ARE YOU FOLLOWING ALONG WITH THIS CHALLENGE? MAKE SURE TO CHECK BACK ON THE BLOG AND FACEBOOK PAGE ALL MONTH LONG FOR CHALLENGE RELATED ARTICLES AND TIPS.

INTERESTED IN THE PREVIOUS MONTH'S CHALLENGES?

  • Find January's Journey To Healthy Eating Challenge here.

  • Find February's Journey To Healthy Eating Challenge here.  

  • Find March's Journey To Healthy Eating Challenge here.  

  • Find April's Journey To Healthy Eating Challenge here.

  • Find May's Journey To Healthy Eating Challenge here.

  • Find June's Journey To Healthy Eating Challenge here.

  • Find July's Journey To Healthy Eating Challenge here.

  • Find August's Journey To Healthy Eating Challenge here.

  • Find September's Journey To Healthy Eating Challenge here.

  • Find October's Journey To Healthy Eating Challenge here.

  • Find November’s Journey To Healthy Eating Challenge here.