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Mindful Eating (or: How Not to Eat a Whole Can of Garbanzo Beans in One Sitting)

mindful-eating-585Mindfulness is all the rage right now. Heck, it even made the cover of one of the last great bastions of printed matter, Time magazine. The ancient Eastern philosophy is nothing new to practicing yoginis like myself. Mindfulness is simply the act — or should we say art — of maintaining awareness of any one thing at a time.
In yoga, we focus in on the breath in order to block out distractions; in life, we strive to pay close, non-judgmental attention to what is going on in our internal and external environment. They call it being present.
So what does this have to do with my latest healthy obsession? Well, let me tell ya.
For those of you who don’t follow sports, we are right smack dab in the middle of the NCAA basketball season. A couple of times a week I watch as young men race up and down the court burning God only knows how many calories.
Now, while the players might be getting a great workout, my activity level is limited to the occasional dash to the kitchen. Knowing as much, I consciously make an effort to minimize the caloric damage inflicted on my body during game-day munching by creating healthful snacks.
Here comes the connection to mindfulness. Or, in this case, un-mindfulness.

garbanzo-beans

Last week I whipped up a batch of low-fat, high-fiber roasted garbanzo beans for the event. Perfect, right?
The problem is, I got so caught up in the game and the munching that I didn’t realize how many of those delightfully spicy, crunchy nuggets I popped in my mouth until my fingers scratched the bottom of the empty bowl!
So, yes, I ate an entire can of garbanzos in one sitting. We’re talking 385-bean calories that I didn’t recall eating, much less enjoying. Good thing I wasn’t planning on going anywhere that night.
Since then, I’ve added another objective to my eating plan. Now I not only strive for moderation in my eats, but mindful moderation. If you want to get a good feel for what I’m talking about, try this beginner’s guide to mindfulness, the raisin meditation.
People who routinely practice mindfulness experience less stress, decreased anxiety and greater focus. Similarly, those who practice mindfulness while eating reduce the chance of overindulgence, improve digestion and increase their enjoyment of food. And when it comes right down to it, isn’t pleasure a major component of this eating thing?
Do you practice mindfulness in your eating habits? —Karen

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