The day before Thanksgiving, I received an email that gleefully encouraged me to stuff myself the next day, as that was the American way. It gave me pause, wondering how we came to this point. Surely the Pilgrims didn’t approach their day of giving thanks with the idea that they’d walk away from the table so full they were miserable.
It also got me thinking about something I heard at a conference I attended recently. Several speakers suggested we think of our stomachs as blenders. Blenders don’t operate well when they are full; they do their best work when we fill them no more than 2/3, even 1/2 full. Our stomachs are blenders in actuality, too. One of their jobs is to mix the foods we eat into a soup, after we’ve chewed the foods so well that they’re almost liquid when we swallow them. As many of us gulp our food, our stomachs are also frequently given the job to break down the foods, too.
When practicing mindful eating, experiment with stopping before you feel full. Maybe when you know you’ve had a good amount of food but a little bit more still sounds good. Is your “stomach blender” filled at least half way? Our FitBriefing on internal cues for mindful eating can help those who have no idea where to start in determining that. (FYI, mindful eating is also called intuitive eating, which is a term I’m thinking of starting to use more, the reason for which I’ll explain in another post.)
I tried this experiment the other night at a pizza parlor (eating great gluten-free pizza, by the way!). After two moderate-sized pieces that I enjoyed slowly along with a gluten-free beer, another slice sounded good but I decided to stop there, before I started to feel too full. In a very short amount of time, I was content with that decision. I felt comfortably satisfied. And woke up the next morning wanting breakfast.
Experimenting is probably a necessary part of learning to how to eat mindfully for healthy weight and health. We don’t always know exactly what’s going to taste good to us, or how much will make us feel well, or whether the foods we choose will make us feel well at all. If we approach with an open mind, eating to enjoy and also observe, we can learn a lot.
Have you learned anything helpful as you’ve experimented with eating mindfully?