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Fit Tips - Mindful Eating!

Fit Tips - Mindful Eating!

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Be Mindful of your Emotions.


"One should eat to live, not live to eat” Benjamin Franklin


There are lots of eating habits we develop from an early age and it’s safe to say a large majority of us are emotional eaters. We ‘reward’ ourselves with sweet treats after a tough day at work, reach for the chocolate after a stressful phone call and after relationship rows some of us are more than capable of devouring an entire tub of Ben & Jerrys Bridget Jones style.


Food makes us feel comforted and loved, but those emotions are only temporary and this can lead to  a vicious cycle of craving more sweet food, leading to added weight gain which will result in increased feelings of sadness or guilt and reaching for, yup, more comforting food. So how can you overcome this?


Mindful eating can help

Mindful eating is all about learning about your eating habits, being aware of the emotions you feel when eating and learning to deal with those emotions without food. Whether it be stress at work, relationship issues or lack of sleep, food may be a temporary solution to your pain or boredom but it’s important to get to the root cause of your emotions and try and find other ways to deal with stress and anxiety.  So how do you know if you’re an emotional eater and how you can prevent this?


There are three important characteristics of emotional hunger.


1.The context: When it happens and with whom.

Do you find yourself reaching for the biscuit tin every time you hang up the phone after talking to a particular relative or friend, when your child is misbehaving or when something goes wrong at work? If so this is emotional rather than physical hunger.


2. The substance: What you crave.

There are few of us that comfort eat broccoli or celery. People tend to crave high sugar/high fat foods for comfort. If you’re physically hungry, carrots will look as good as a piece of cake. If you’re emotionally hungry, only you’re preferred fix will do.


3.How it happens: The timing.

Physical hunger builds over time, whereas cravings develop quickly and nag at you persistently.  Teach yourself to become aware of the emotions that trigger your cravings. Mindfully stay with the craving, listen to the message it has for you, and then do something to make yourself feel better that doesn’t involve bingeing on  junk food. It could be taking a short walk, practicing yoga or having a dance to your favourite playlist.


Keep a journal

A great way to get pinpoint emotional eating triggers is to keep a journal and log your thoughts and feelings when you eat. This will help you understand what foods you associate with certain emotions and hopefully help you find other outlets to relieve these emotions.  


This week the focus is portion control. By Annabel Zierold.


It’s not just what you eat but how much that counts too. An excess of food usually means an excess of calories which can lead to weight gain, so it’s possible to even over eat the good stuff.


Apart from the recommendation to consume five 80g portions of fruit and vegetables a day – there are currently no UK guidelines on portion sizes. Nutritional content and serving size on packaging is listed in grams yet few of us weigh out food. So how can we work out how much to eat?


Your hands are a great tool for this, allowing you to visualise the appropriate portion of basic foods in relation to the size of your hand.


-         Carbohydrate e.g. jacket potato = size of your fist

-         Meat e.g. beef steak = size of your palm

-         White fish e.g. cod = size of your whole hand

-         Oily fish e.g. salmon = size of your palm

-         Salad leaves e.g. uncooked spinach = two double handfuls

-         Cheese e.g. piece of cheddar = two thumbs or grated would make a pile the size of your fist


Have a happy, healthy week
Anna Carnegie

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