Mindful Eating for Entrepreneurs

Melissa Gallagher Landry and Carissa Burton are the co-founders of Mission Nutrition, bringing quality nutrition services to their clients online. They will be hosting a WellTalk through the CIC Wellness Team in the Venture Cafe on Wednesday, February 17th at 5:30 PM. There, they will expand upon this topic and explore “Mindless Eating”. Register here.

2016 diet plan already out the window? Here are five tips to be successful anyway.

The definition of a diet is “a special course of food to which one restricts oneself.” Special? Restrict? In our experience with clients, particularly those with the entrepreneurial spirit, the idea of “special” and “restriction” does not sit well. It often conjures up sad images of eating bland food alone while the rest of the world gets to go on feeling “connected” and “free” with whatever they are eating. No wonder diets go out the window so fast! Why does taking care of your body have to feel like a form of punishment? Can we let go of the rules that seem to come hand-in-hand with dieting and still be healthy? We think it doesn’t and you can.Simply by changing how you approach food, what you eat can drastically improve without a special, restricted diet. What do we mean? Let’s consider these non-diet approaches to:

1. You can’t eat what isn’t there. Set yourself up for success. Focus on keeping healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, proteins, and nuts accessible, visible, and ready-to-eat. If not-so-healthy food is out of sight, it’s more likely to stay out of mind! This won’t make you want your old favorites less, but it will create space between the impulse to eat them and ACTUALLY eating them. Over time, this space might cause you to eat these foods only when you truly want them – not simply because they are in arms reach. (note from CIC: there are lots of snacks at CIC that fit the bill! You can find almonds, peanuts, assorted fruit, cheese sticks, and baby carrots in most CIC Cambridge/Boston kitchens. If you’re lucky enough to find a floor with certain speciality items, you’ll also benefit from whole avocados, dates, or guacamole.)

2. Eat for how you want to feel, not how you want to look. It takes a lot of willpower to avoid unhealthy food when it is in front of you. Often, visualizing the reward of a “new body” in the future is not enough to compete with the reward of eating your favorite food right now. Even if you are successful, the “competition” can take quite a bit of mental energy day after day. Quit relying on willpower! Instead consider this: how do you want to feel after you eat?  It is unlikely that you answered “Stuffed, tired, groggy, and regretful.” Most of us can quickly identify the types of foods that cause these feelings both immediately after and sometimes many hours after we eat. Take a moment to think about how you want to feel and note which foods provide you that sensation. Many find that the way they want their body to look often arrives when they start eating for how they want their body feel.

3. Use portion sizes as a guide, not a law. It is important to know what a serving of food looks like. Nutrition Facts Panels have information to reference. For most foods without a Nutrition Facts Panel, aim for a ½ cup serving. With this in mind, begin your meal portioned out at one-serving-only per food. Decide if you need more (or less) based on how well that food resolved your hunger. Here’s an example: ¼ of an avocado is a serving. If you typically eat the whole thing, try and get a little closer to the serving by testing if ½ of the avocado would serve you just as well! (note from CIC: what better way to meet a fellow entrepreneur than by offering that friendly stranger who shares your kitchen half an avocado or banana?)

4. Let the “if….then” statements guide the way. Before you are about to eat ask yourself, honestly, why do I want to eat? and follow the answer. If you are bored, let that boredom spur the creativity for you next big idea. If stressed…then consider a solution, or consider if this worry is something to simply let go.. If truly craving the taste of something…then give yourself permission to have a taste, mindfully. If you’re actually hungry…then EAT! When you eat for hunger, make it something that actually fuels you with solid nutrition: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins, and healthy fats.

5. Use what works and leave the rest behind. Here’s the thing, diets aren’t entirely useless. They just aren’t always aligned with how you work and what you need. So, if in the past you’ve found a particular diet wasn’t all bad; recycle the strategies and tips that seemed to work best for you, and forget about the rest! Did your last diet feel too restrictive overall, but the breakfast smoothie recipes were fun and tasty? Great! Bring them back and continue to implement the healthy changes that work for you. 

Use our tips to find your way eating mindfully throughout the day. Implementing changes little by little will set you up for success in the long run.