Life Advice Tester: Eat MindfullyTara Schuster

Oh, Hello!

And how are you today? Have you been on some kind of spiritual journey lately? You just look so well-rested!

As your trusted Life Advice Tester (patent pending), my job is to try on the advice of others in order to find a way of living that Saint Beyoncé might approve of. So far my experiments have challenged me mentally – meeting a stranger every day, making my life choices in under sixty seconds and embracing boredom. But for this week’s challenge, I wanted to try something that would be a test for my body.

This Week’s Advice: Eat Mindfully.

The Adviser: Nutritionist Lauren Felts AKA the Holy Kale

Lauren Felts is a nutritionist, but more than that, she is a lady on a mission to live a radiantly healthy life and to inspire others to do the same. Her website and Instagram reveal a world of glorious hikes, flowers in bloom and most importantly, food that looks not only healthy, but also positively delicious. Whereas Lauren posts photos of salads full of kale, snap-peas, cashews and mint, I am lucky that no photos have surfaced of me and my college diet of Gatorade, Top Ramen and Bailey’s Irish Cream (YUM!). As my first step towards leading a healthier life, Lauren challenged me to eat mindfully.

What exactly is mindful eating, though? Is it counting how many times one chews one’s food, à la Betty Draper? I asked my friends what they thought mindful eating meant and most held that it was a dieting technique. I decided that for me, eating mindfully had nothing to do with losing weight, but instead was a firm commitment to the actual act of eating. For one week, I would challenge myself to stay present and in the moment while dining. No distractedly checking e-mail over dinner, no eating pizza while walking, no popcorn while watching a movie.

Test 1: No Mindless Snacking

Have you ever been standing at your kitchen counter when suddenly you realize that not only are you eating a bowl of coconut-based ice cream, but also that you are almost done with said bowl? Mindless snacking is more than just a bad habit of mine, it’s my coping mechanism for my chronic struggle with hanger (hunger + anger). Without a snack every few hours, I morph into a starved Dr. Jekyl, as entitled and cranky as Nicki Minaj on a bad day but with none of the hit tunes. Since I MEDICALLY could not give up snacking due to the aforementioned plague, I decided that when I had a snack, I would have to plan it and make eating my sole activity.

For my first test, I decided I would eat a mindful after-hike snack: an orange. With its pits and peels, an orange demands the consumer’s attention.  It seemed like a super easy and gentle test of mindful eating. How wrong I was. I remember putting the fruit on my cutting board, I remember grabbing a knife, but then – in all honesty – the orange was gone. WHEN HAD I EATEN IT? HAD I BLACKED OUT? It didn’t get much better from the orange. I helplessly watched as I continued to inhale sleeves of Thin Mints, packs of gum and countless almonds. As hard as I tried to be mindful while eating, it was almost as if I had long ago trained myself to turn off my brain the moment I started to eat.

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  1. I think “mindful eating” is a nice way to word it. Trying to “eat healthy” all the time makes me run to my cosmic brownies for a naughty reprieve. I think “mindful eating” sounds less demanding and I am going to try to look at it that way. Thanks!!

    • I hadn’t thought of it that way before – but you are right! Maybe “mindful eating” is a way to break it down and make being healthy a little less daunting. Great point. Thanks for reading, lady!

  2. I’m very guilty of eating lunch in front my computer at work. Thanks for the inspiration to try to kick this habit starting today! :)

    • I think we are all guilty of this from time to time, Dana! Good luck – tell me how this goes for you. I say try just one meal to see how it feels! xoxo