Most of us eat mindlessly. We eat while browsing the web. We eat while driving. We eat while working. It’s as if food is an afterthought; an accessory to our busy lives.
As a result, we tend to eat too much, too often, and for the wrong reasons. Occasionally, we might stop and wonder, “Why did I just eat so much? Why do I feel so sluggish all the time? How did I gain this much weight?”
It’s time for us to start thinking about what we eat, why we eat, and how we eat. So I’ve created a practice I call Eating in Order. It’s the result of a lot of research and reflection. There are entire books written on each aspect of it, but I’ve narrowed it down in order to keep it simple and attainable.
Eating in Order is composed of three questions and two reminders. Think of them as checkpoints on the journey toward better health. If you can’t pass one then it’s time to stop and figure out why. The steps are there to help you, not hinder you.
How to Eat in Order:
1. Am I hungry? Just because it’s a mealtime or there’s food in front of you doesn’t mean you need to chow down. If you’re not hungry and you won’t offend anyone, don’t eat. Consider how you’re feeling too. Don’t use food as a coping mechanism for being tired, stressed, sad, or bored.
2. What’s best? If you are hungry, what’s the best available option? If you aren’t sure, start with Michael Pollan’s Food Rules. It’s short, accessible, and immediately applicable. If you want to get advanced, check out Nourishing Traditions, The Bulletproof Diet, and The Real Meal Revolution.
3. How little? Your goal should be to eat as little as necessary, not as much as possible. Choose a portion size that will leave you feeling satiated, not stuffed. You might be surprised to learn how little your body actually needs once you start giving it better food.
4. Give thanks. Practice gratitude for the food you’re about to eat and for those who’ve grown and prepared it. Remember how fortunate you are to have a quality meal on your plate to begin with. The more grateful you are, the more you will enjoy it.
5. Slow down. Mealtimes are not race times, so slow down. Savor the flavor. Be present with your food. Relax. It usually takes around 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that it’s full, so give yourself at least that long to finish.
I know it sounds simple, but I’m telling you, Eating in Order can revolutionize your life. Write it down, memorize it, count it on your hand, do whatever it take to move it from this screen to your life.
When you start trying it, you’ll be amazed to discover…
- how often you eat when you aren’t hungry
- how frequently you choose unhealthful food
- how consistently you overeat
- how regularly you take your food for granted
- how unnecessarily fast you finish
But here’s my fair warning: as with any new habit, making changes will take time. It will feel hard at first. You’ll be tempted to go back to your old mindless routine which wasn’t working but was way easier.
But don’t give up. The more you Eat in Order, the more natural it will become, and the sooner you’ll have more energy, focus, and well-being in your life.
Why not try it today? Let me know how it goes and share this with someone who might find it interesting or useful.