Mindful eating part III: Indulge responsibly tips

I've spent the last two blogs talking about mindful eating. And I'm not done yet. I still have part IV to combine everything together so that you, the athlete, can fully understand where I am coming from as it relates to your health, performance and body composition goals.

First off, I invite you to read THIS ARTICLE to help you improve your relationship with food.

As promised, here are a few simple tips to help you practice mindful eating.
Whereas the above article (link) can help with improving your relationship  with food, the below tips are specific to when you indulge. Most people do not have an unhealthy relationship with food they term healthy and feel good when eating is under control.
The food mind games likely occur when you indulge, eat something you term "off limit" or feel "off track" with your eating.
(Be sure to practice these tips throughout the holiday season when you will be presented with more treats than normal.)

Before indulging, ask yourself why you are indulging? Are you stressed, bored, upset, famished? It is important to have a purpose and a reason when you eat - from carrot cake to carrots. There is always a time for everything so just make sure that you feel good about what you eat, when you eat it. An important rule of mindful eating is that you should never say "I shouldn't be eating this" when you are eating something.

Many athletes struggle with eating in the evening in that this is the time when cravings hit full force or hunger is hard to tame. Always honor your biological hunger.
Because we want to avoid the negative thoughts associated with eating/food which may affect how you exercise/train and eat the next day, tell yourself that when you wake-up in the morning, you should never regret what you ate the night before. Own-up to your food choices. If you are going to eat something at or between dinner and bedtime, feel great about it (don't hate yourself for it the next morning). This tip is so powerful. 

Ask yourself how much you need to eat of your treat before that treat is no longer appealing (or feels good inside your tummy). If you can't resist the indulgence, or you have a great reason to indulge, aim to eat up to 4 savory bites of your treat. You pick the size. Excite your taste buds with every bite and be sure to make the bites count (it's no fun to indulge in something that neutrally appeals to you). Sometimes we can satisfy a craving in just one bite whereas other times, a few more bites are needed to create happiness in the tummy.
I need at least 3-4 bites of a cinnamon roll, banana bread or carrot cake but I am good with one bite of a cookie or piece of cake (I give the rest to Karel) to feel happy inside my tummy. 

Relax. It's OK to indulge and to eat for pleasure every now and then. But first, consider what you eat most of the time and what you eat on occasion. If your office brings in store-bought cookies or pastries every day, and you eat cookies or pastries every day, guess what will happen on a special occasion when you are presented with cookies or pastries? That special occasion cookie or pastry is not as special because Friday office cookies or pastries are your norm. 
Choose your indulgences wisely. 

Trust yourself. Many times, athletes can afford to indulge every now and then without any negative side-effects. But you have to trust yourself when you indulge. If you have a dieting mentality, you may find yourself using your next workout as the first opportunity to "burn off" those calories or restricting calories the next time you eat. With an unhealthy relationship with food, you may even sabotage your next few workouts as a result of food restriction or overexercising. It's time to avoid food rules, to stop an all-or-nothing approach to what you eat (or don't eat) and to stop eating with shame, guilt or anxiety. If you feel you can't work on this by yourself, consult a professional who can help.

-Have your cake and eat it too!
The opposite of dieting is mindful eating. There is no right or wrong way to eat. It's time to renew your relationship with food. You pick the right times to indulge.

Store-bought apple pie from the freezer section or 
Grandma's homemade apple pie or?
Brownies from a box or one brownie to share with a best friend/spouse/child, from the well-known local bakery?
Bagels from a bag or a fresh bagel made with quality ingredients, made daily?

Think about what you are eating, when you are eating it and why you are eating it.
No need to be obsessed. 
It's finally time that you associate a deeper meaning to what you put inside your body.

Above all, when you eat or indulge, be sure you feel amazingly, awesome, happy and satisfied after you eat.