December 11, 2014

A guide to mindful eating

Mindfulness is often described as an awareness of reality, or the present moment. Mindful eating begins with quieting the environment at meals and snacks and tuning into what is going on inside the body and mind.

The following is guide to pursuing a mindful meal during the holidays, or anytime of the year.

Take a moment to relax

Breathe deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth. Allow your belly to rise when you breathe in and fall as you breathe out. Ask yourself where you feel hungry; Mind? Belly? Anywhere else? Rate your hunger using the following scale:

  1. Starved with severe hunger pangs that are present on and off for greater than 30 minutes. You may also have a headache, or feel fatigued or irritable.

  2. Very hungry with hunger pangs on and off for at least 15 minutes. You may also have constant thoughts about food with increased sense of taste and smell.

  3. Hungry and notice that the stomach is growling with an increased sense of taste and smell.

  4. Somewhat hungry and may first experience feelings of true hunger. Make a plan to eat in the next 30 minutes.

  5. Neutral and feel neither hungry nor full.

  6. Somewhat satisfied and starting to feel food in the stomach but do not feel ready to stop eating.

  7. Satisfied and could most likely go at least 2 hours without feeling hunger.

  8. Starting to feel full and could go 3-4 hours without feeling hunger.

  9. Very full with some discomfort and desire to sit and rest or nap.

  10. Stuffed with painful pressure inside the stomach is painful and feeling of sleepiness.

Imagine what type of food would satisfy the hunger

  • Texture: crunchy, smooth, chewy

  • Temperature: cold, warm, cool

  • Density: heavy, light

  • Taste: sweet, salty, spicy, sour

Prepare and portion the food, choose a peaceful place to eat

Try to eat most of the meals seated at a table where the food is prepared, such as the kitchen or the dining room. Limit distractions such as TV, computer, phone, radio, books or magazines.

Eat slowly and savor every bite

Notice all that you can when eating, such as what the food tastes, smells and feels like. Chew the food slowly and take a moment to rest between bites. Try to make meals and snacks last at least 20 minutes.

Do a check-in

Stop after you have eaten about 10 bites to assess your level of hunger or satisfaction using the scale above. Continue to eat and evaluate every few bites. Stop eating when you would rate yourself as a seven or eight on the scale above. **Pause after eating to enjoy the satisfaction.**  

December recipe: Chewy oatmeal cookie bars


  • 2 tablespoons light butter, room temperature

  • ¼ cup prune puree

  • 1 tablespoons flaxseed, ground mixed with 2 tablespoons Water

  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • ½ cup white sugar

  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons Splenda brown sugar

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 2 cup oats

  • ½ cup raisins (optional)

  • ½ cup walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 11 x 14 baking dish. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the white and brown sugars; Add the egg, prune puree and vanilla extract. Stir in the wet mixture into the flour mixture. Add the oats and raisins and mix until combined. Pour mixture into baking dish and smooth with rubber spatula. Bake for about 9 to 12 minutes, or until the edges are light brown and pull away.