Mindful Eating Revelations: Do I really want to eat this?

I don’t really like waffles. I certainly don’t love them. Oh, they’re okay. I don’t DISlike them. They’re fine. Just… just fine. Really. Fine.

One of the things I’m working on doing as part of my mindful eating approach is to stop eating foods I don’t thoroughly enjoy. Mindful eating isn’t about counting calories (though I am eating fewer calories), it’s about changing the psychology. The mindset. It isn’t about what, when, or how much I eat. It’s about how and why I eat.

When it comes to food choices, I have come to realize that there are choices I make every day that are only meh. Maybe I eat it because it’s easy or convenient. Or out of habit. Or maybe I even think I like it more than I do because it’s just one of those things everyone likes. I mean…who doesn’t like waffles? They’re waffles!

Okay, well, you don’t have to agree with me on that one. It was my own personal revelation this morning as my husband mixed up a batch of buttermilk waffles at the kids’ request. All I could think about was the syrup that would go on top, which is most of the flavor of the waffle. I don’t use syrup on pancakes anymore. I’ve gone to fruit toppings, usually warmed in a skillet with just a bit of brown sugar and lemon juice. (Blueberries, strawberries, and peaches work great for this. You can use fresh or frozen, though if you go with frozen you may want to add a bit of cornstarch to thicken it.) The pancakes soak up the juices and the flavor and are marvelous conveyances for warm, juicy fruit. Waffles, on the other hand, with their many divets, are really made to hold syrup. And that’s not what I want to eat right now.

At the end of a meal, I want to feel like I just ate exactly what I wanted. I want it to have been delicious. Savory. Delectable.

Moreover, I want to look forward to my next meal with eager anticipation. I’m less likely to spend all afternoon snacking if I know I’m going to have meatloaf for dinner. I really like meatloaf! On the other hand, I’ve noticed that on nights when I have skillet chicken breasts on the menu (in any of the thousands of available recipes), I spend the afternoon looking through the pantry for something else to eat. Something better. Something I really want. I guess it’s time for me to admit that I don’t like skillet chicken breasts all that much. It’s just a habit I’ve gotten into because it’s easy and, as others have pointed out “so versatile.”

Of course, meatloaf has more fat and calories than chicken. I know that. But a single serving of meatloaf with a side of mashed potatoes, asparagus, and milk is about 500 calories. At least, if you’re getting any better at figuring out serving size. (I am.)

One of the biggest problems with dieting is the usual emphasis on depriving ourselves of our favorite foods. No wonder it’s hard to stick to! That’s a white-knuckle approach, not a long-term approach. And it’s not a realistic lifelong plan.

Start by taking a hard look at what you eat. Think about why you made that choice. Only eat something because you love it, or at least really like it. If it’s not a 4 or 5-star recipe (out of 5 stars) then never make it again. Don’t make it because you always have, or because you think you should, or because it’s low-fat, or because it’s easy. Make it because you really like it, or not at all. (Note: I do go to 3 stars on veggies because that’s just how I feel about veggies. Some people learn to love them after a time, but even eating fresh, local, etc. I mostly only think they’re okay. Fresh asparagus may be my only 5-star veggie. I do believe in using a bit of fat to improve the taste of veggies, but I’ll get to that in a future blog post.)

***Important note: If you do not enjoy a diverse diet, then mindful eating is not the right approach for you. You cannot eat pizza and cheeseburgers everyday because those are the only foods you like. You really need to enjoy at least some foods in each of the five major food groups. If you don’t, I suggest learning to enjoy more types of food. Diversity is a big key to a healthy diet, and there are so many foods to love! For my part, I am a 35-year-old woman who stopped eating fast food over a dozen years ago. I enjoy most fruits, meats and seafood, nuts, beans, dairy, pasta, potatoes, oatmeal, rice (in some dishes), and enough vegetables to get by. That’s why I can do what I’m suggesting. I was addicted to fast food in college, so I know what it’s like. I also know you can get over the addiction. It’s hard, but you can. And believe it or not, there’s a delicious world over here on the other side. 🙂

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