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  • Writer's pictureMarilyn Halpern

The Mindful Path – Eat Smart Month | Nov. 3, 2020

The Mindful Path – Eat Smart Month

Marilyn Halpern, LSW, MSW Photo credit: Roland Halpern

Every year, the American Heart Association (AHA) strategically picks November as Eat Smart Month. Thanksgiving often marks the beginning of the holiday season and an annual uptick in caloric intake. Celebrate healthy eating with free, inspiration and motivation by texting 51555 and submitting the keyword DailyHack. Participate and receive a daily text message from AHA starting November 1 through December 1, 2020. AHA also invites people to explore their web-based resources, search Eat Smart Month, AHA.

Mindful eating allows you to reflect on how food provides energy, strengthens the body, and promotes well-being. This month, pay attention not only to what you eat but also how you eat. For example, do you find yourself dashing through meals, or eating while driving, working or watching TV? Many people report eating on autopilot most of the time. Ideally, mindful eating involves sitting at a table, limiting distractions and enjoying food. It involves eating slowly so we can savor the textures, flavors, aroma and pleasure of the experience. This deliberate, thoughtful process allows us to focus on eating intentionally.

Mindful eating offers an opportunity to get observant so you can identify meal and snack patterns along with dietary habits. More curiosity and less judgement can help you think about why, when, what and how eating is promoting health or hijacking your best efforts. Before each meal, try to envision the concept that the food represents a giver, a receiver and a gift.

8 Mindful Eating Tips:

1. If you are trying to reduce your weight, limit snacks and savor meals. Try utilizing smaller dinner plates and only eat when you are hungry. If you would like to snack, be sure to control portion sizes and make the snack intentional and mindful.

2. Stay hydrated and limit alcohol.

3. Indulge a little. Think in terms of limiting portion sizes, not boycotting your holiday favorites.

4. Limit foods high in salt, fat and sugar including processed foods.

5. Strive for proper portion sizes and try to make the meal last for 20 minutes or longer.

6. To slow down, eat with your non-dominant hand or chop sticks.

7. Engage your senses by noticing colors, aroma, sounds, textures, and flavors of dining. Create a peaceful environment to enjoy the meal. Acknowledge your thoughts, feelings and sensations about eating without criticism or judgement.

8. Practice hara hachi bu. This concept originates in Okinawa, Japan and instructs people to eat until they are 80 percent full. The island of Okinawa is known for a high concentration of centenarians — people who are 100 or more. Most surprisingly, even the oldest Okinawans are considered healthy and have the emotional, physical and intellectual capacity to live and function independently.

The American Heart Association provides tools and resources so that food can be our best and most powerful medicine. Gratitude comes easy when we savor the joy of eating a delicious meal. Enjoy the feast. Bon Appétit!

(Article was originally posted in My Prime Time News, a Colorado newspaper for seniors. Visit their website at .)

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