The road to healthy eating is paved with intention.
I'm sitting here writing this with a stomach full of chocolate cake and sugary frosting. It wasn't my intention to eat it for lunch as I sat down in the break room.
I honestly was enjoying my healthy fresh salad I had so lovingly prepared this morning. But somehow, seemingly without realizing it, I ended up with a piece of that chocolate cake on my plate. And seconds later, that piece of chocolate cake sat like a brick in my stomach, negating that healthy salad I really did enjoy consuming before it.
Oops. Usually I'm a pretty healthy eater, but I do have a major weakness for sweets, especially of the chocolate variety.
As I took a few moments after lunch to relax before heading back to work, it dawned on me: I didn't even really enjoy that cake. What happened?
I wasn’t acting with intention. I didn’t stop to think whether or not I really wanted that cake. It was there, it was free, I ate it.
Awareness really is the first step. I took the time to realize, after the fact, I didn't really want that cake. Maybe next time I will only get through half of it before I realize I don't really want or need it, and I can stop. Then maybe the next time I'll realize before it's even on my plate that I don't really want it.
I'm not saying I forbid myself all sweets, or that you should either. But eat with intention. If I really feel like I wants a sweet, or I'm having one to celebrate, of course I go for it. I'm talking about those times that I find that handful of cookies in my mouth, or that spoonful of ice cream — and I don't know why.
I hadn't intentionally thought, “Yes, I want this,” or, “No, I don't want this.” I just came, I saw, I devoured. Then I regretted.
When I eat with intention, no matter what it is, I don't regret. Here's how you can eat with intention, too:
Make a list, even a mental one, of the meals you’ll eat for the day or week. Do you need to set aside time to make them? Even before that, make a grocery list and stick to it. Put each item in your cart with intention.
2. Prepare with intention.
Be aware of your actions as you chop, pour and mix your food. Feel grateful for the time you are giving yourself to prepare, and for the ingredients you are using.
3. Eat with intention.
Slow down. Turn off the computer or TV. Enjoy those wonderful flavors you're putting in your mouth, and the nourishment you're giving your body.
4. Bring awareness to your life outside of mealtimes.
You can do this through meditation, through breath, through any practice you do with mindfulness and attention. Creating intention and mindfulness in other aspects of your life will make it easier in doing so with your eating habits.
5. It's an ongoing process, so be gentle with yourself!
If that chocolate cake happened, let it be — and let it go. Set an intention for the next time one crosses your path.