I’m not a fan of diets, AT ALL. But, I’m certainly guilty of trying a few in times of weakness (i.e., the weeks leading up to summer). Yet, the result is always the same—they just aren’t sustainable. What IS sustainable for me is simply finding good food habits. That’s why Mindful Eating and Intermittent Fasting have sparked my interest this year. Neither tell you WHAT to eat, but both create awareness as to WHEN and WHY you’re eating.
I would consider both of these good food habits–they can stick with you for the long haul.
If you’re considering dieting in the NEW YEAR, then I would encourage you to explore mindful eating and intermittent fasting as alternatives to hoping on a diet bandwagon.
Let’s be clear: I am not a medical professional in any shape or form. Nor am I a mindfulness expert. I’m just a mom on a mission to feel better, do better, and live better—and to help you do the same! Got it? Okay, let’s proceed!
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is basically a practice in mindfulness—just with the food you’re putting into your body. As with any mindfulness practice, mindful eating requires you to be in the present moment.
In a nutshell, mindful eating is simply paying attention to what you’re putting into your body. And, according to the Center for Mindful Eating it “can bring us awareness of our own actions, thoughts, feelings and motivations, and insight into the roots of health and contentment.”
Mindful Eating helps us UNLEARN our bad habits like:
- Eating in response to our MOOD du jour (including joy, pain, sadness, boredom, etc.)
- Eating without awareness of HOW the food was made
- Eating something without really knowing what’s IN IT
- Eating when we’re NOT hungry
How to Eat Mindfully
Before you gobble down your snack, mindful eating encourages you (without judgment) to become aware of what you’re doing.
The goal is to become “conscious about what, when, why, and how you eat.” Once you become aware, you can use that info to make better food choices, which will (*fingers crossed*) lead to a healthier lifestyle.
It’s pretty simple—but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Benefits of Mindful Eating
Mindful Eating involves becoming aware of all the reasons why you’re eating, the actual value of the food you’re putting into your body, and learning how to read your body’s hunger cues. These are great habits to nurture in ourselves and our kids.
We are all guilty of the bad habits listed above because that’s how we’ve been conditioned by our culture and our families.
But, even if we can’t completely undo all or most of our engrained habits (like replacing baking with therapy…as I tend to do), we can at least become mindful of what we’re doing. Maybe it’ll make it easier to pump the breaks on shoveling food down our throats when life gets brutal.
If you’re ready to get off the yo-yo bandwagon and dig deep into mindful eating, then these two books are a good jumping off point.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
When I first heard about intermittent fasting, I totally had the wrong idea about it. I equated it to all those juice diets or going days without food—none of which I’d even consider as an option (because FOOD).
But, I’ve since learned how wrong I was. The Intermittent Fasting craze is actually more of a food schedule than a diet.
So basically, there are “windows” of time during the day where you EAT and windows of time where you FAST. Ick, I know—just the word fasting makes me cringe. But, bear with me.
There are a handful of popular intermittent fasting schedules that are trending right now. The ones you see the most buzz about are the “16/8” and the “5:2” schedules.
The 16/8 Schedule
This is the deal: Fast for 16 hours. Then, you have a “eating window” of 8 hours. So, no eating after your 8 hour window closes. But, you can drink water, no calorie beverages, coffee & tea.
But, for 16 hours you’re not supposed to eat anything.
It’s kind of like skipping breakfast and eating a super early dinner.
The 5:2 Schedule
This is the deal: pick two days out of the week and don’t eat. Eat normally the rest of the week.
On your fasting days, you still drink water and other non-caloric beverages. And, you could also have up to 500 calories a day.
Benefits of Fasting
According to the Harvard Health Blog, Intermittent Fasting can be a realistic way to lose weight and keep it off—but “the timing of the fast is key.” It also needs to be combined with healthy eating and lifestyle choices—that’s critical.
You can’t just fast for 16 hours or two days a week and eat like crap the rest of the time. It’s still ALL about making better food choices but with the added “schedule” to follow.
If you stick with it, then you’re likely to see your metabolism pick up, and you could even drop some weight.
The Complete Guide to Fasting and The Fast Diet are both considered great resources for learning more about the benefits (and various schedules) of intermittent fasting.
Mindful Eating & Intermittent Fasting Compliment Each Other
It seems like these two ways of looking at food intake really compliment each other. One wants you to think carefully about WHAT you’re putting into your body (and WHY), and the other wants you to be particular about the WHEN.
Seems like these two are a match made in heaven. Honestly, they are like a modern day homage to the good ol’ days of eating good (real) food, not too much, and not all the time.
I think exploring these two systems together is a great way to reboot your food-brain in the New Year!