During and after pregnancy your hormone levels are completely different compared to what you’re normally used to. How to deal with cravings? How to deal with endless eating? The constant wish to graze all day? Here are two simple and easy mindful eating strategies:
First and most importantly, whenever you have an urge to eat something ask yourself, “Am I REALLY hungry?” Is my stomach telling me I’m hungry or is it my head telling me I’m hungry?” Head hunger is ‘false hunger’ and not true stomach hunger. If it takes you a couple of seconds to answer the question or you’re still not sure of the answer then you’re probably ‘head hungry’ and not ‘stomach hungry’. When you’re ‘stomach hungry’ there is no doubt… You will know!
Yes, it is true that in your second and third trimesters an additional 300 calories are needed for the growing baby (if you’re under or overweight refer to your physician because the needs will be different). That’s an additional 1-2 snacks a day! Not another serving of dinner, not another whole meal. How many times do you catch yourself eating “for the baby” and it really being more than you and the baby needs? Examples of an extra 300 calories are:
- 1 medium sized apple + 1 cup nonfat/lowfat yogurt
- 1 slice of whole wheat toast w/2 tblsp of peanut butter
- 1 cup of cereal + ½ cup non-fat milk + fruit (blueberries, strawberries, banana, etc.)
Secondly, you should bring as much awareness into your eating behavior. A lot of the unneeded and unnecessary weight gain comes from mindless eating in front of the TV or computer, while reading a book, at your desk while working, etc. So in order to eat the right amount of food without gaining too much weight it’s important to be mindful of how hungry and how full you are.
Whenever a client comes to me with an issue of grazing all day or endless eating another simple statement to tell yourself is, “STOP!” Which stands for: Stop, Take 3 deep abdominal breaths, Observe, Proceed. Stopping eating will create the space you need to be aware of hunger and fullness levels. Taking 3 deep abdominal breaths will help center and calm your mind. Observe what you’re doing… Is your hand in the chip/cookie bag and half of it is already gone, and you didn’t realize it? Proceed – with mindfulness of the situation at least now you can choose to stop eating and do something else or take responsibility and continue to eat (at least it’s more mindfully now and you will stop eating sooner than if you ate mindlessly).
Mindful eating does not mean restrictive eating or stopping eating completely when not hungry. It means bringing awareness into the situation. After non-judgmentally taking note, then deciding for yourself whether to continue eating, distract yourself with something else or figure out what your true need is (i.e. tired, stress relief, boredom, etc.). Then meet that need appropriately by taking a nap, calling a friend, journaling, etc. instead of mindlessly eating and gaining unnecessary weight.
Julie Chiu, RN, MS, CHC, IC® is a certified weight management facilitator and pioneer of mindfulness-based coaching in the Asia-Pacific region. She is Hong Kong’s only Certified Health Coach (National Society of Health Coaches), Intrinsic Coach®, Certified Intuitive Eating Pro® Counselor and Mindful Living Behavioral Specialist. She’s passionate about empowering others to find their own healthy eating path. She helps people become mindful eaters by showing them how to become more aware of instinctive hunger and fullness cues. Through the 8 week Mindful Eating (ME) workshops participants relearn how to eat foods they love mindfully, attentively and fearlessly without guilt, deprivation or bingeing. She offers one-on-one health coaching sessions and ME group workshops. To contact Julie: 9610 8530, julie@mindfuleatingHK.com, www.mindfuleatingHK.com.