You can have your cake, and eat it too!
Hello holidays! Hello cakes, cookies, cocoas, cheeseballs and all the yummy sugary, fatty treats that you can imagine. This time of year, I actually crave peppermint mochas; such an odd and specific thing to crave. Being mindful of this urge, I realize that the peppermint mocha reminds me of all that is great this time of year. It’s hot in my cold hands. It’s tasty on my tongue. It’s minty and chocolatey at the SAME time! It can be colorful. It’s something I buy instead of make (a special treat).
Not long ago, I would feel a bit guilty for indulging in something so, well…unnecessary. After all, wasn’t this a “bad” food? But then I adopted the practice of enjoying “sometimes foods” and “always foods”. “Always” foods are the foods you need for optimum health – whole fruits and veggies, lean, quality meats and whole grains. “Sometimes” foods are everything else – cake, candy, ice cream, chips, French fries…and peppermint mochas.
“Sometimes and Always” foods are a Mindful approach to eating. By removing the “good and bad” food labels, you eliminate the guilt and shame of eating a “bad” food. You do this without overindulging because “sometimes foods” are eaten only SOME of the time! They are not enjoyed daily, or maybe even weekly. I enjoy my mocha once in a while, around the bonfire with my two boys, or while shopping with my lovely friends. I can truly allow myself to enjoy ALL of it – the smell, the taste, the warmth…the good times and the laughter too.
The holiday season is especially hard when you are trying to lose weight, or maintaining a healthy eating pattern. Not only are tempting foods everywhere, but guilt and shame sneaks in to sabotage your meals, and your joy. But if you eat mindfully, then you become wise with a wisdom that tells you “it’s just cake.” And a slice of cake once-in-awhile is OK – it’s JUST cake.
Here are 3 ways to enjoy your treats, Mindfully:
- Smell. When was the last time you smelled your food? REALLY smelled it? Does a chocolate cookie smell like a chocolate brownie? Does a ripe banana smell better than a green banana? Does sharp cheddar smell differently than mild cheddar? If you don’t know the answer, don’t be surprised. It’s common to have our food, see it, and consume it without paying much attention to it. But missing out on smell – that’s a big mistake. Research shows that 80-percent of what we taste comes from smell alone! 80-percent! So, take a moment to pause and inhale the many scents of your treat.
- Taste. Some foods are simple; some are complex. Did you taste that subtle hint of vanilla? Was the cayenne too strong? Were they apple pieces or pear? We have taste buds to experience five flavors – sweet, salty, bitter, sour and savory. Take the time to chew your food slowly and move the food around in your mouth. The taste buds detect flavors at varying levels all over the tongue. Eat slowly and give your mouth time to decipher and reveal your food’s flavor.
- Focus. Pay attention to the food in front of you. Put away your cell phone. Turn off the TV or the computer. Take a deep breath. Eat your food with the intention to enjoy it, and only it, for the moment. Eating this way allows you to savor the treat, and usually leads to consuming less. This is because you find greater satisfaction in eating and are more easily able to register when you have eaten enough.
Stop with the worry and pressure to avoid food. Don’t lock the dessert tray in a box and ship it to a long forgotten island. Give yourself permission to truly enjoy your food…all your food. There will be plenty of days for organic spinach and beet salads and then there will be cake! Relax and appreciate the moment.