Life Advice Tester: Eat Mindfully

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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