Slow Down, Moms. Your Health Matters
March is Women’s History Month, and yesterday was International Woman’s Day. I often hear a lot of grumbling about it – from both sides of the aisle. But if we take time to reflect on what it means to be a woman in 2016 – a mother in 2016 – when it seems impossible to sit down for a meal, setting aside a day for the world to do the same doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.
As a registered dietitian, I work with a lot of moms who are juggling parenthood, being wives, PTA presidents, executives, students … the list never ends. Life has become warp-speed and frantic, so telling moms to slow down, reflect, inhale and exhale is asking for seconds they feel are ticking by, time wasted. It’s almost as if women are wired to feel guilty if they take a moment to pause.
So I have to bring out the airplane crashing analogy. Put your oxygen mask on first, take care of yourself, so you can take care of the ones you love. When my clients are getting most of their meals from their kids’ lunchbox leftovers, scarfing down burgers in the car, or living off bad coffee from the office, they’re not putting on the mask. They are going to run out of air.
Slow down, Moms. Your health matters.
And it’s not only what you eat that matters, but also how you eat. Getting in bites of kale salad while helping one child prepare for a spelling test, listening to your other child practice When the Saints Go Marching In on her flute, texting a client about her order, and folding laundry may feel efficient, but it’s hectic and unhealthy.
How are you going to carve out time you don’t have?
Simple. You have it, but you need to change your mindset and make the time yours. And by doing so, you’ll be taking care of yourself and showing your family how they need to take care of themselves as well. Teach by example. So, slow down with these 8 mindful eating tips for moms:
When does the meal begin? In Buddhist philosophy, the meal doesn’t begin when you have a steaming plate of food in front of you at the table. It begins with the preparation and sitting at the table, waiting to serve. This is a critical time to change our mind set and take a moment to reflect on how the food got to our plate. It’s a great way to talk to our kids about where their food comes from. What an incredibly powerful moment to share with family and teach gratitude, appreciation, and awareness.
Sit at the table: When we eat in front of the TV or computer screen, we’re not paying attention to the meal. Teach your children family values and take time to sit with each other at the table for every meal making eating in front of the TV the exception, not the rule.
Listen to the silence: Turn off the radio, TV, telephone, and computer. Let meal time be a time to rid ourselves of distractions. What’s important is what is on the plate and who we’re sitting with. EVEN if we’re alone, we should turn it all off and exhale. Immerse ourselves in silence for a moment. And look forward to the conversations that take place, making the table the centerpiece of family life.
Serve your plate: Even if you buy pizza or burgers, Chinese or Thai takeout in boxes, take them out of the box and bags and serve them on plates. It’s easy to overeat when we don’t see our food. Serve portions the size we normally would.
What’s on your plate? Pay attention. Look at the food on your plate, its colors. Notice it! Because that’s what is nourishing you and giving you health.
Take a mindful bite: As drawn-out as this may feel, all of these steps take just seconds out of our day. Think of it like gastronomical foreplay, building up to something great. Take that first bite to pay close attention to the textures and flavors of the food.
Put your fork or spoon down between bites: Taste. Breath. Inhale and exhale.
Don’t eat on the run: Even if you buy take out, stop and eat it on a park bench, in the office cafeteria, or, if necessary, park and eat, picnic-style, in your car. Eating should not be combined with walking, driving, running, or working. Just stop, sit, eat.
As impossible as all this seems, mindful eating will become second nature to the way you and your family eats. We can learn to nourish our bodies as well as our relationships.
I’m starting a Mom’s Mindful Eating Group and would love for you to come by so we can pause and learn together. Next week, I’ll be presenting strategies of mindful eating for busy parents at the 92nd Street Y. I hope to see you there. Event Info
Slow down, Moms. Your health matters! I hope to see you next week.
Happy Women’s Day.