My Mindful Eating Tips – For Long Term Lapband Success

by sandi on March 29, 2017

I sat down and wondered what I wanted to share in this week’s newsletter.  I’ve been thinking a lot about mindful eating as I have eating a little too fast lately and paying the price.  I re-read this blog and thought – “It makes the points I need to make for myself and the entire WLS Community” – so here it is again.

As time went on after surgery I learned day after day what he meant and I still hold those words close.  Initially, I thought he meant that if I didn’t like the food, I shouldn’t eat it.  Well, this is a part of what he meant, and so, very soon – immediately after being allowed solid foods, I removed those nasty tasting premade, canned, bottled, and packaged protein drinks from my presence…FOREVER.  I never enjoyed eating them so why bother.  This helped me learn to find high protein foods that I could enjoy, that would fit into my calorie and protein goals for the day.  My acceptable food list began to expand.  I tried new foods, new methods of preparation, and some were a huge success while others were dismal failures. 

Mindfully Eating My Way To Long Term Lap Band Success
Mindfully Eating My Way To Long Term Lap Band Success
Mindfully Eating My Way To Long Term Lap Band Success
Mindfully Eating My Way To Long Term Lap Band Success
Mindfully Eating My Way To Long Term Lap Band Success

Well nothing could be worse than the first time I made stuffed peppers for me and my husband soon after we were married.  Being cash strapped, I bought the cheapest ground beef I could find and stuffed the peppers with the beef, some rice, some seasonings, and topped with some tomato sauce.  They looked lovely but were floating in so much grease that we both kind of got ill…  Nothing I have prepared since my 2004 Lap Band surgery was that bad.  Forty seven years later we still laugh about the stuffed pepper fiasco.

Failures were not the end, they became my beginning – they are opportunities to improve, and improve I did.  I became adept at taking comfort food recipes and remaking them – low calorie, high protein, versions that satisfied me as well as my family.  Now my challenge is to get creative with taste, texture, and color to make a visually attractive plate that looks, smells, and tastes wonderful.  I’m getting pretty good at this if I do say so myself.  You can find many of my recipes in my new cookbook “Eat Your Way To Success And Learn How To Control Hunger – A Weight Loss Surgery Friendly Cookbook

In the process of learning how to cook healthy, learning what foods my surgery approved of, as well as 11+ years of restaurant eating, I have learned what it means to enjoy dining.

It’s quite simple actually.  It is about seeing and smelling the food first, enjoy it with those senses, and then slowly tasting it in small bites, savoring the textures and the flavors as I chew it 20 – 30 times before I swallow it or even think about lifting the fork up for another bite.  Yes, it’s also about putting the fork down between each bite and not lifting it again for 15-30 seconds (or longer) after swallowing.  Notice the flavors that remain on your tongue and in your mouth between each bite. 

Now let’s go backwards a bit.  It’s about having the food served on a small plate so that it appears to be a large portion and arranged attractively on the plate….Then begins the looking and the smelling……and then the biting and the chewing and the tasting and the savoring… Can this be done while you’re watching your favorite soap opera?  Or posting on Facebook?  Or working at your desk?  Or even reading the newspaper?  The answer is a resounding NO! 

This pleasurable act of enjoying everything about the food in front of you needs to be done without distraction.  The focus is on the food, not the book, or the TV, or the phone, or the computer.  Just focus on the food.  Enjoy the experience by being totally present in it.  As I got better at the cooking healthy and eating mindfully, the weight came off, and yes I learned how to enjoy dining.  I no longer shoveled food into my mouth while doing 3 other tasks with no care on how much or what was going in.  Guess what?  Even when portion controlled, multi-tasking doesn’t provide the same satisfaction that dining mindfully does.  You may actually find yourself done sooner, eating a bit less, making better choices because that precious space you have to fill with fuel/food is so small that only “good stuff” is allowed in.

I challenge each and every one of you to turn off the TV, put away the book, shut down the phone, and eat one meal each day for a week mindfully, and let me know what happens.

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