LINDA ROBBINS: How to live a mindful lifestyle
Mindfulness is paying attention to how you live your life. And mindful behaviors involve making conscious decisions in your daily life, such as making healthier food choices, stopping eating when you are full, and choosing to become more physically active. Even small changes in choices can add up in a big way with boosted energy, improved mood, and reduced health problems for children and adults, according to Colorado State University Extension.
Mindful Eating: When we choose to select healthier foods, we are practicing mindful eating. Eating more slowly and savoring the flavor is also mindful eating. It includes developing an awareness around food and how it fuels our bodies. It also involves paying attention to how foods affect us physically, emotionally and mentally and finding comfort in eating.
Mindful Moving: Mindfulness also encompasses our physical activity. Noticing how you feel before, during and after moving or exercising is part of mindful moving. Simple changes such as stretching, taking a morning walk, parking far away from the door or vacuuming can make a difference over time.
Involving Kids: Kids have a natural curiosity and interest in both foods and physical activity. It is valuable to get them started early as it is the foundation to their relationship with a healthy lifestyle. Children can begin learning healthy eating habits very early. Toddlers and infants channel all their senses when they eat. They feel, smell, look at and taste their food before they decide to eat. Typically, the younger the child the closer they are to practicing mindful eating. As a parent, it is valuable to use mindful eating techniques to encourage kids to select healthier foods and recognize when they are full on their own.
Strategies for Success
‒ Involve children in meal preparation and food selection. Kids learn by doing, so engage them in menu planning and grocery shopping. Let them wash and mix foods and set the dinner table. This will hopefully encourage them to make healthy choices and try new foods.
‒ Talk about food. Educate your kids about the value of healthy food choices. Try not to label foods as “bad” or “good,” rather help them understand why healthy foods are good for them.
‒ Be a role model. Kids are able to pick up on your attitude and beliefs towards foods. It is important they see parents choosing to eat a variety of healthy foods without hesitation and stop eating when they are full.
‒ Explore new foods. When eating children use their senses more than we realize. Try foods with different textures and colors. Teach kids to make meals with alternatives like mashed cauliflower or broccoli tots.
‒ Don’t reward eating healthy with something that is not. Rewarding kids with an unhealthy treat for eating a good one won’t help them develop mindful eating habits. Rather this teaches them to associate eating vegetables with discomfort/pain and having sweet sugary foods with success and pleasure. Instead, reward kids for their healthy choices with encouragement, activities or games.