Mindful Eating for Athletes

I recently had the honour of working with a journalist for an article on Mindful Eating
for Runner’s World Magazine. Cindy Kuzma did an amazing job putting together an easy to read article with helpful tips & tricks on how to integrate mindful eating into one’s lifestyle amidst. Below is an excerpt from her article, but you can read the full articles here!

mindful eating reduces stress & boosts performance

Immersing yourself in every step of the fueling process, from cooking to cleanup, is worth the extra effort, even for time-crunched runners balancing miles and life. Mindful eating reduces stress and makes dining more satisfying, says Sally Powis-Campbell, a runner and psychologist. This practice can translate to better performan
ces. “Once you
see the benefits on the plate, mindfulness spills over into other as
pects of life,” she says. Here’s how to practice it in yours.

STEP ONE :: PLAN

Schedule diligently. Block time to shop for and prepare your meals just as you would plan your training. Double your recipes and store leftovers, or dedicate a few hours on Sunday to prep ingredients for the week. “These time-savers make cooking more conducive within an intense running schedule,” says Meredith Klein, a private chef and mindful-cooking teacher.

Gear up. Keep your kitchen clutter-free and stocked with tools to make cooking easy and comfortable. “Runners will tell you it’s not about having the most expensive shoes, but those that work for you,” Klein says. “You don’t need the priciest knife, just one that really feels good in your hands.”

Be nonjudgmental. Acceptance and tolerance are key c
omponents of mindfulness. Jessyca Arthur-Cameselle, Ed.D., a sports psychology professor who studies mindful eating, advises against labeling foods “good” or “bad.” Too many carrots can make you sick, while a few bites of dark chocolate can help your heart (and mood!).

STEP TWO :: COOK

Unplug. Ditch electronics or leave them in airplane mode to remove distractions. “Use cooking—like running—as a time to press pause on your anxieties and plans,” Klein says.

Check in physically. As you peel, grate, and chop, be aware of your body in space, Klein says. Feel
your feet pressing into the tile floor, your grip on the knife, the slipperiness of the lettuce. Bring your mind back to these concrete sensations if you start drifting.

Clean promptly. Sure, it’s tempting to check social media while the fish grills or the mousse mixes, but use this time to clean up. “You’ll enjoy the food more knowing you don’t have to wash pots and pans afterward,” Klein says.

Be social. “Getting your partner or family into the kitchen with you is a great way to spend time together, especially during a busy training cycle,” Klein says. Bonus: According to research, adults who cook and eat together regularly have lower odds of obesity.

STEP THREE :: EAT

Breathe. A few full breaths switch your nervous system from fight-or-flight to rest-and-digest mode, meaning you’ll absorb more nutrients, Powis-Campbell says. Wrap your hands around the back of your chair and take deep breaths that move your stomach in and out, says Katie Jeffrey, M.S., R.D., coauthor of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Athletes: A Mindful Eating Program for Sports and Life.

Chew—a lot. With every bite, your mouth sends signals to your brain to quiet cravings. Start with 10 chews for each mouthful and work your way up to between 30 and 40. This also helps you focus on the texture and taste of your food.

Slow down. “There’s no medal for those who finish first,” Powis-Campbell says. Eating at a slow jog instead of a full sprint gives your gut and brain time to register feelings of fullness. Slow down by using your nondominant hand, using smaller utensils, or putting them down between each bite.

Recite a mantra. “Don’t give up” powers you through a tough run. Use the same strategy to maintain focus during a meal, says Powis-Campbell. Say (or think) phrases like “I am nourished” every few bites to calm yourself and return to the purpose of the meal.

Read the full article here.