When you are hungry, and you see a cheeseburger, what goes through you mind?
"Yum." "I can't wait to eat." "I'm starving!"
But do you ever think about how many grams of carbs and fat, or how many calories, are in that burger? Do you ever slow down and consider what would be best for your health in that moment, or are you stuck on autopilot?
For most Americans, in fact for most people all over the world, eating is not an exercise in mindfulness, it is a habit. We practically do it unconsciously. In the same way that many people have to deal with anxious thoughts, or depressed feelings, even though they don't try to bring them up, we are also in danger of putting food into our body that isn't good for us, even though, deep down, we know better.
But in order to bring that better half of us to the surface when we are tempted by the likes of a burger, we have to practice being mindful by meditating. If you can sit down for a few minutes and practice letting go of those negative and automatic thoughts, you will see a difference in how you handle situations like food. There will be a little space that opens up, and in that space you'll have the chance to ask yourself, "Should I really be eating this?"
From that moment, you have the chance to change your mind. And when you begin changing your mind, you have the chance to change your body as well.
But to make sure you know whether the answer is "yes" or "no" when you are faced with a food choice, you need to do a little research. Use some online food calorie calculators and references so that you can tell whether a food or meal is within your calorie, fat, and carb limits for the day. You'd be surprised what "healthy" choices aren't all that healthy.
Choosing the caesar salad might sound like a healthy choice, and compared to a cheeseburger, it probably is. But with a few searches and calculations, we find that your standard caesar salad has about 160 calories and 10 grams of fat. Not too bad, but stop and think. Could we do better?
How about an Israeli salad (one of my personal favorites). Finely chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, bell peppers, and garlic. Add some mint and olive oil, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. That comes to roughly 138 calories, and 4 grams of fat. When you consider all the vitamins and antioxidants you're getting as well, it's pretty clear which one is the healthier choice. Personally, I think it tastes better too!
A little knowledge of what you eat goes a long way. Be mindful!
Speaking of food. If you haven't already, please check out the new website that Jeff Sirlin and I have launched called Cancer Wellness TV (www.cwellness.com). It has tons of free, research-driven information about nutrition, recipes, cancer-fighting foods, as well as mind-body and support therapies for fighting cancer and living after cancer. It's all free, and we want as many people as possible to be involved. Tell everyone you know, and Happy Stretching!