Summer means lots of fun in the sun, and lots of yummy food at park picnics, poolside potlucks and backyard barbecues.
With all the excitement and distractions, it’s easy to eat mindlessly.
Mindless eating can spoil a great party if it leads to gas, bloating, cramping, indigestion, sluggishness and other uncomfortable feelings.
It's definitely a show-stopper if it results in the desire to go home and lie on your coach.
The following five practices will help you eat more mindfully, including choosing foods that are pleasurable, satisfying and nourishing to your body.
1/ Pause and check in.
Pause before grabbing a plate to check in with your body’s desires and hunger level.
Is your body craving something light, cool and crisp or something hearty, warm and juicy? Is it yearning for sweet, salty, bitter or sour flavors?
On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being not hungry at all, 5-6 being moderately hungry, and 10 being really hungry, gauge where you're at. Let this inform what type and how much food you need to feel satiated (versus stuffed).
2/ Scan and plan.
Explore all your food options first to determine which dishes are really calling to you, and how those foods will feel in your body.
For example, I love a cold bean salad on a hot summer day, but my stomach revolts against raw onion, so I’ll skip it if it includes it.
3/ Make a sampler plate.
Put just a small amount of your most desired foods (including desserts) on your plate so you can sample everything to determine which items you want more of.
Sometimes that delicious looking potato salad ends up tasting just ho-hum. For many of us (especially Clean Your Plate Club members), it’s easier to toss a few spoonfuls of something we don’t like, rather than a few large scoops.
4/ Return for seconds.
Go back for seconds of the foods you enjoyed the most. But first, assess your hunger level again to help guide your choices and portions.
5/ Slowly savor every bite.
This can be more challenging to do while socializing and absorbing the party scene, but strive to slowly savor every bite and pause throughout your meal to check your body’s satisfaction and fullness levels.
Sometimes, it can be tough to remember these steps or put them into practice when you’re in party mode.
If you do happen to eat mindlessly or overeat, the most important thing is how you treat yourself--not with judgment or criticism, but with kindness and compassion.
There's no need to feel bad or guilty or regretful. You’ll have many more opportunities to wear your mindful eating party hat, should you wish to.