One Month of Mindful Eating
I love food (I mean, hello, you’ve seen this blog). The idea of not eating what I want when I want seems abysmal. I’ve never dieted (the mere word makes me cringe). However, I so want to eat more mindfully for the next month and see what happens and how I feel.
There are numerous plans floating around online and in magazines for the new year. I’ve taken bits and pieces that resonate to form a plan I believe will work for me. I know my weaknesses (the 4 major food groups: butter, pasta, bread and bourbon), but there are a couple I’m going to challenge with vigor head on. Here is the plan I’ve created for the month to come, starting today and ending February 11th.
1. I’m going to scale back my food and beverages to a narrower selection and rule out a few of my worst go-to habits. The key is to keep plenty of stuff you love on your edible list so you don’t feel deprived. Here are my starting parameters:
No coffee in the morning. Substitute with Yogi Super Antioxidant Green Tea. In the last 2 months I’ve scaled back to one cup of coffee in the morning so this should be a fairly easy change. I do love coffee and will go back to it at the end of the month, but plan to trade it up with green tea on a regular basis.
I’m all in for Eggs and Oatmeal, and some limited dairy. I’m keeping eggs, mixed with a lot of Spinach and a sprinkle of cheese. I’m going to try to cut back on some dairy, but not too much. A few tablespoons Nonfat milk is all I need for oatmeal. I will not give up cheese, but will reduce the quantity. And some Nonfat Greek Yogurt here and there does a body good. With dairy, you always have to decide where the fat line is for you. I NEVER buy non-fat or low-fat cheese (ewie) but I am perfectly okay with Nonfat milk and yogurt. But it does vary for everyone. (NOTE: When purchasing non-fat and low-fat foods always compare labels with full fat versions. Sometimes you’ll see more sugar or more sodium to replace flavor and it might be better just to have the extra grams of fat from the full fat version.)
Whole Grains, but no pasta, rice or bread. I can have quinoa and bulgar wheat, but no whole wheat pasta. I may allow myself an occasional whole grain piece of bread, but not very often. Goodbye Pasta and Bread and lovely Italian foods. I will miss you, but I just gotta let you go for a while.
No Sweets or Extra Sugars. Honey is the one sweetener I will use when needed. My sweets will be fresh fruit, juice and dried fruit for the next month. I can also have a couple bites of dark chocolate a day (or dark chocolate covered goodies). I might make an occasional splurge but it will be small and infrequent.
No liquor or beer, but a glass of red wine is A-OK. Liquor and beer is so calorie rich, with no benefit, but red wine supposedly gives you a little something and isn’t as horrible on the calorie scale. I’ll stick to a glass or two of red wine per day, but no more.
Lots of green veggies (and other colors of the rainbow). I loaded up on Kale, Spinach, Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli and Edamame today as well as carrots, eggplant and sweet potatoes. The more veggies the better, and the more colors the more vitamins I’m sourcing naturally. I also have Blueberries, Granny Smith Apples and Tangeloes. Heaven.
Lots of seafood and lean meats. Red meat is out for the month. I plan to focus mostly on fish and seafood, with some pork, turkey and chicken thrown in. I’ll still eat more whole grains and veggies than meat. Easy Peasy.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. And by hydrate I mean water, or maybe a little sparkling water with a lemon wedge thrown in to spice it up. I have never been a soda person and will continue that trend. Lots of bad sugars in soda (and diet soda is not a healthy alternative), but water is awesome.
Less Butter. This is a sad, sad day for me. I LOVE Butter. For real. It makes everything so good, but I also love Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I plan to use much less butter, and cut back on olive oil as well. I can do it for a month, even though it crushes my spirit a little, but I won’t give it up all together.
Eat healthy snacks, but less frequently. I work from home so I tend to munch and graze all day. While I am good about eating healthy snacks I sometimes lose track of how much (see #3 below). I was recently reading an article that emphasized the importance of feeling hungry and reacquainting yourself with a hungry stomach growl. I’ve started tracking my food and limiting my snacks to nuts, carrots and hummus, dried fruit, apples with almond butter. For a splurge I have Honey Goat Cheese and Fig Butter, what?!??!?!? I know, crazy awesome.
2. Fortify with vitamins and antioxidants. As my friends can attest, I am already a vitamin fiend. I picked-up the habit from my mom, who is very healthy, and I swear by them. (Yes I have a cold today, but it is the first time I’ve been sick in 2 years!) On a daily basis I take the following which meet my personal needs: Fish Oil, Time Released B Vitamin Complex, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Probiotic, Calcium/Magnesium Complex and Cranberry Concentrate. I also use Bach’s Rescue Remedy about twice a day for natural stress relief. Flower essences, good stuff.
I’m not a fan of multi-vitamins as I don’t think they provide enough of your daily need and aren’t as soluble. This is my opinion only, I’m no doctor. If you’re of child bearing age and want a baby you may want to add Folic Acid, if you’re low on Iron choose an Iron Supplement that is soluble and not irritating to your stomach and body in general. This month I’m also adding a package of Emergen-C or scoop of Trader Joe’s Super Green Drink Powder (added into no sugar added juice) into my daily intake in the afternoon to give me a boost. This latter addition is super tart, but helps wake me up with its puckeriness (if that is a word).
3. Keep track of my food intake. I’ve never kept track of calories or kept a food journal, but thanks to technology it is now a super simple process. I downloaded My Fitness Pal, a free app for my iPhone, and it is actually fun to keep track. On day one I’m already learning those snacks really do add up, even when they’re healthy. This particular app also helps you set a fitness goal and gives you a calorie guide to lose the weight you want with your suggested exercise regimen. I said I would work out 30 minutes a day at least 3 days a week, which brings me to my next point.
4. Exercise, one way or another, 30 minutes a day, 3-5 days a week. This is a tough one for me sometimes. I have a job and a hobby that put me in front of a computer (or in the kitchen) non-stop. Last night I thought how much I wanted to exercise, but today I have a persistent cold and it is snowing outside. I do not like inside exercise except yoga, but I can’t do a downward dog with a congested head. You see these excuses??!?! Sheesh. I can at least do a few push-ups, crunches and squats and not be such a lazy bum, seriously. (I could also take the tree philodendron off the treadmill in the corner, but I don’t want to.)
5. Stay off a Scale. One month ago I had an annual check-up with my doctor. That is essentially the only time of year I get on a scale. I don’t own a scale and don’t care to. However, I stay within a narrow window of weight and weight loss isn’t very calculable for me. If the numbers on the scale are more tangible and motivating for you experts say you should use a scale, but less often. Instead of jumping on a scale daily or weekly, try monthly or bi-monthly so you can really see the pay off of your hard work in larger (or actually smaller) numbers.
There is my starter list – wish me luck! Not too bad really, and I’m really curious to see how I feel on February 11th. I’ll keep you posted on my progress and will share my new, exciting recipes with you that fit into my plan. Tomorrow, I’ll give you a starter shopping list as food for though on a mindful eating journey.