It’s that time of year again.
Halloween candy is around every corner.
- Piled high on grocery store shelves – “Buy me!”
- Begging to be shared on your co-worker’s desk – “Eat me!”
What are we to do when there are so many treats tempting us at every turn?
Should we run back to our desk cubicle, hide, and hope the candy doesn’t find us, all while thinking longingly about if for the rest of the day? Or should we eat it all really fast so then it is “gone quicker”? Whew! Dealing with the candy monster sounds exhausting!
Well breathe a sigh of relief. Because who has the power when it comes to deciding what foods to put in your body? YOU DO! One of the best things you can do when holiday treats come calling is to empower yourself. Give yourself permission to decide whether or not to enjoy that Fun Size® Twix or pumpkin spice brownie bar. The key word here is “enjoy.”
In order to fully enjoy what we eat, we must be completely present and in the moment. This is where mindful eating comes into play. Mindful eating is a practice during which you become aware of all of the senses related to eating. Ask yourself some of these questions to really understand your own eating experience. It takes some practice, but you might learn a lot about your emotions, food preferences, or previously unnoticed habits.
- What are your emotions before, during, or after eating a particular food? Are you happy, sad, excited, stressed?
- Do you notice your hunger signals while you’re eating? Do you listen to your body when it tells you it is satisfied? Or do you notice you are uncomfortable after it is too late?
- What does your food smell like? Does is smell good?
- What is the texture like when you chew? Is it smooth or crunchy? Does it get stuck in your teeth?
- What does the food taste like? Salty, sweet, spicy? Do you enjoy the flavor?
By practicing mindful eating, you are in the driver’s seat. You can identify which treats bring you the greatest satisfaction and willingly decide to pass on the treats that are “just okay.” When you go on vacation, do you want to pay hundreds of dollars for a trip that is “just okay,” or do you want to get the most for your money? The same goes for your body. Nourish yourself with foods that will promote good health, and treat yourself to little indulgences that are truly satisfying! Instead of telling yourself “I shouldn’t have that,” learn to realize when you actually think “I know too many sweets will give me a stomach ache” or “I don’t even like [insert sub-par candy here].” Pay attention, be selective, and trust yourself. With time, you will know exactly what foods you love and what makes you feel great.
So next time the office candy bowl is calling your name, choose your favorite piece or feel free to pass if there is nothing that looks that good. Unwrap your treat of choice, look at it, eat it during a time when you can really appreciate it, and Enjoy. Every. Bite.
If you would like to learn more about mindful eating, there are great resources on The Center for Mindful Eating website.
Love your food, and love yourself! ~ Holly, RDN
Happy Fall, everyone! Over the past few weeks, have you noticed that the produce section of the grocery store has exploded with new seasonal favorites? The bins, once filled with peaches and nectarines, are now heaping with different apple varieties and pears. And among the veggies – spaghetti, butternut and acorn squash! Just thinking about warm spiced fruit and savory seasoned squash calls for a big "YUM"!
While many people may be comfortable baking an apple pie or preparing spiced pears, the task of cooking winter squash might seem a bit more challenging. If preparing a two-pound funny-shaped gourd isn’t one of your specialties, I hope you’ll consider giving it a shot! If cutting through the tough outer rind scares you, you can microwave the squash a little first to make it easier to work with. Just remember to poke a few holes with a fork first to allow steam to release while cooking.
Winter squash can be prepared in a variety of ways:
Winter squash varieties can be cooked up into warm tasty dishes that beat the chill in the air. They will also fill you up quite well. Winter squash is a great source of complex carbs and fiber. This means you will digest it more slowly and stay full longer, even though it is fairly low in calories (on average, 1 cup = 80 calories). Another star quality of these versatile gourds is their high vitamin A content. Those rich deep orange and yellow hues means the squash is packed with vitamin A, which helps keep eyes and skin healthy.
So give winter squash a shot this Fall! And don’t forget about the seeds inside. They bake up just as tasty as pumpkin seeds with a little olive oil and salt.
Wishing you happy, healthy eating! ~ Holly, RDN
University of Illinois Extension: http://extension.illinois.edu/veggies/wsquash.cfm
Cooking Light – Guide to Winter Squash: http://www.cookinglight.com/food/in-season/in-season-winter-squash
A place for our consultant Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) to share nutrition science, yummy and healthy recipes, tips on seasonal ingredients, and other nutritional musings. Enjoy!