Saturday, February 12, 2022

Mindful Snacking

Working from home has a lot of benefits.  One of the challenges I hear from a lot of people is the constant access and ability to easily snack non-stop.  This is a way in which mindfulness can be so basic yet so incredibly helpful.  Once you have even the most basic mindfulness practice - Just enough to pause before doing something and check in to the body - you can use that to really help in a lot of ways.

You can set the intention to pause before you get up from your desk or, if - like me - you prefer to stand regularly, you can take a pause before you walk.  For me I set a few mindfulness rules that cover a lot of situations.  

  1. Whenever I walk during the workday, I walk mindfully.
  2. Before I walk, I set the intention of where I'm going and what I will do.
  3. If I eat, I check in with my body to see if I'm actually hungry.
With my Apple Watch reminding me to stand every hour, I have everything I need to keep me from eating too much during the day. 

At 10 minutes to the hour, each hour, my watch tells me I need to stand.  I treat it like a mindfulness bell and I push back from the desk, take a deep in and out breath, and stand up. Not only does this serve my health as intended but it's also an opportunity to practice a couple of minutes of mindfulness routinely which is great for rewiring the brain to do so naturally. 

Before I move I decide what I am going to do.  Bathroom? Kitchen? Step outside for fresh air?  A Combo? And once I've decided, I walk as mindfully as possible not thinking about the thing I'm headed to do, only about the steps to get me there. I don't do full zombie-walk, but I walk with deliberate intention and my mindfulness on my steps and body.

If I'm going for a snack, I do two things that help tremendously.  When I arrive in the kitchen I check in with my stomach/body and see if I'm truly hungry or just eating because I can.  If I'm truly hungry, then I check in with my mind on what snacks it wants, and then I choose an alternative that's healthier unless I really really want that first thought. I do these things because so often my body is not actually craving food but my mind is.  When we are not mindful, these two things can seem like they come from the same place. And I "test" the idea of a healthier snack because so often I actually find that I prefer the healthier option if I bother to truly ask myself what I want.  

Am I really hungry right now?
For what?
"Chips and dip."
How about red grapes instead?
"Ooh, that sounds even better!"

More often than not, I'm either not hungry or I am perfectly happy - if not happier! - with the outcome and I've integrated mindfulness several times in a short period into my day! I do have one other little trick, however.  If my body really does want food and it really does want the less healthy choice, I go for it.  I don't deny myself that choice if it was made with wisdom and discernment.  But my last little trick to help myself out is I take the smallest amount of whatever snack it is and will simply come back if I need more. This discourages eating more than I need and also what you'll find is that most often one last of something (especially when snacking) is enough.  A single piece of dark chocolate instead of three. 5-7 mixed nuts instead of a handful.  2 grapes instead of 6.  

It sounds like a lot of work, but it's all a matter of seconds and a few thoughts.  You might be amazed at how effective this all is.  Give it a shot and let me know.

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Photo by  Braxton Stuntz  on  Unsplash "Try to be mindful.  And let things take their natural course. Then your mind will become still ...