March 7, 2019
First published on InDependent.
As a military spouse, your service member’s time away from home can wreak havoc on your mind, body, and eating habits. After all, you take on all the added responsibilities that come with holding down the home front. Who has time and energy to cook up a mindful meal, let alone sit down and eat it, as a party of one or a parent of growing kiddos?
Surely not you.
Therefore, skipping a meal, grabbing a super quick and easy bite to eat in the car or at the kitchen counter, or even just grazing throughout the day becomes commonplace. Hey, we’ve all been there.
But, learning the tips to eat with purpose—whether your spouse is at home or on the go—can help fuel your mind and body for wellness, giving you the energy you need to feed your greatest potential. Here are six of my favorite, simple tricks to inspire you to do exactly that.
1. Start with one.
As the saying goes, “Old habits die hard.” Transforming your comfortable routine to allow for more space to eat with purpose is going to take time. Though, this doesn’t mean you need to overhaul your life completely.
Instead, a more reasonable approach involves choosing one meal a day to start, during which you’ll eat more mindfully. It’ll be easier for you to accomplish your mindful eating goals if you start small.
2. Create a peaceful eating environment.
In today’s fast-paced world, it can seem nearly impossible to unplug for 15 to 30 minutes just to eat. Hence the reason why mobile devices often make their way to the dinner table, or the TV is flipped on to catch up on a show or provide some distraction for the kids while you multitask.
These distractions are cause for mindless eating. You become so laser-focused on whatever it is that’s stealing your mealtime mindfulness that you suddenly look down at your plate only to realize you devoured all your food within five minutes. And, you’re still hungry.
Designate the kitchen and dining room as your main eating spaces where no phones or electronics are allowed. Not the living room or bedroom where your attention and focus on the thoughtful process of eating and enjoying your food, as well as the company, is interrupted.
3. Plan ahead as best you can.
Ever have those nights when you go back and forth with your spouse or kids about what to eat for dinner? And before you know it, so much time is wasted that you either throw in something quick or order carry-out?
It happens. And while the thought of planning ahead can sometimes be laughable as a service member spouse, setting aside some time on a Sunday for intentional meal planning and prepping as a family for the week ahead can reduce the chances of mindless eating. Map out your meals and jot them down in a planner or on a chalkboard in the kitchen. That way, when Monday rolls around, you’re ready to get to cooking, or you have dishes prepared and ready to go in the fridge/freezer.
While you’re in the kitchen, get the whole family involved to catch up and reconnect. Or, if you’re going solo, focus on enjoying the entire process—from chopping the veggies to tossing in the spices. View this time as less of a chore and more of a designated hour or two to slow things down and get in tune with the ingredients you’ll be feeding your body.
4. Tune into your body.
It’s easy to reach for a handful of candy or devour a bag of chips when we’re feeling the mental and emotional pressures of life as a military spouse. Thus, we end up looking to those certain foods to provide us with comfort or a distraction. And, from experience, they often fall short of filling that role.
For that reason, before you dive into your next snack or meal, take a moment to tune into your body by asking yourself the following questions:
- Am I hungry? Thirsty? Rate your sensations on a scale of 1-10.
- Am I feeling bored, stressed, worried, or in a hurry?
These questions allow you the opportunity to reflect on your eating habits and ensure you’re feeding your body with a purpose.
Now, this is very important. Mindful eating does not mean you can’t ever reach for your comfort food of choice or that you should feel guilty when you do. Instead, it means building a healthier relationship with food. One way to do that is by listening and respecting your inner wisdom and feelings and becoming more aware of positive and nurturing possibilities to select and prepare nourishment for your body and mind.
5. Know your food.
Part of the mindful eating journey involves reflecting on where your food came from and the process it took to make its way to your family’s table. Think about where and how each ingredient was grown, those who planted and harvested it, those who stocked the shelves, as well as the loved one(s) who prepared the meal. Opening yourself up to think about food in this way will encourage thoughts of gratitude and appreciation, further amplifying your eating experience.
6. Take it slow and savor every bite.
Often, we eat on auto-pilot thanks to the distractions I mentioned earlier. As soon as you eliminate them, aim to sit down for 20-30 minutes to take it slow and savor every bite of your meal. Put your utensils down between each mouthful to pause and allow time to notice the texture, flavors, and colors you’re feeding yourself.
You’ve dedicated much of your time to focus on everyone else. Now’s the time to change up the pace of your day, and focus on your body and mind.
Ultimately, life will try to interfere with your mindful eating habits. Remember – it’s a journey and not an end goal! You won’t be perfect 100% of the time. But, when you keep these tips on hand, you’ll start to eat with greater purpose and satisfaction than ever before.
To help you get a head start on implementing these tools, we’ve put together this free Vision Board Toolkit (complete with three offers from our #BlueStarNeighbors) to map out your intentions and goals, and achieve the best version of you this year! Click here to download it.
And if you’re eager to deepen your overall sense of purpose and belonging as a military spouse, become a member of Blue Star Families today! We can’t wait for you to join our family.