Mindfulness At Mealtime

It has become increasingly difficult in our fast-paced world to find moments to take a pause.  Yet, these moments are important to our overall health.  Taking care of oneself, even if only in little snippets, is paramount to developing or (dare I say) maintaining good health.

Today is my day off and I decided to include a mindfulness exercise in my unorganized morning routine. Eating quickly, eating too much, and mindless eating are all unhealthy mealtime habits that most of us have adopted.  This mindfulness activity can help create a peaceful moment in an otherwise busy day.  In addition, regular mindfulness work can help reduce stress and increase positive thoughts and moods.

How does one engage in this mindfulness activity you ask?  Great question!  I chose breakfast for my mindfulness mealtime.  If it’s your day off and you can only participate when your spouse is at work and the kids are at school then lunch may be better for you.  Or the whole family can join in and you could practice this mindfulness activity at dinner.

  • During your mindfulness activity focus solely on the meal.
  • Do not read or engage in any other tasks.
  • Look at how the food looks, the colors and textures.
  • Take the first bite (or sip of a drink) and feel the food in your mouth.
  • Notice temperature, taste, texture, and anything else.
  • Chew slowly and mindfully with each bite.
  • Be aware of changes in your body as you are eating.
  • Take your time, don’t rush.
  • As you complete the meal pay attention to how you feel.
  • Notice the empty plate and any morsels of food left.


To get the full experience try to prepare your meal mindfully as well.  I’ll use my breakfast as an example.

-Bring out all of your ingredients and notice how they are packaged and where they are from.

-Look and listen to the sounds as the pan is heating up and the oil is getting hot.

-Notice the pattern of the egg shell as you crack it.  Listen to the instant sizzle as the egg falls into the pan.

-Add your seasoning, watch the salt disappear as it heats up and the pepper becomes incorporated as you gently stir the eggs.

-If you are making toast in a toaster oven, watch as the bread slowly gets darker.

-Be aware of the timer and the color of the fading coils in the oven.

-Bring out your plate and utensils, notice the shine and reflection, or maybe your dishwasher needs a tune up.  😊

-Watch the pat of butter melt on your toast for a bit before smearing it all over.  See how it slides into the holes and cracks of the toasted bread.

-Place the eggs on the plate and notice how they slide out of the pan, or maybe they need to be scraped a little.

*This was only the preparation, keep reading for the enjoyment of the meal itself.

-Take a bite of toast and notice the crunchy texture that quickly turns soft as you chew.

-Taste the butter as it helps the toast become softer.

-Take a sip of hot coffee and notice the temperature.  Taste the cream as you feel it coat your tongue.

-Use your fork to cut off some of the scrambled egg.  Notice the difference in color from the whites and the yellow yolk.

-See the texture as you bring it closer.  Taste the egg and feel the soft texture as you chew slowly and gently.

-When finishing, notice the tiny bits of egg left on the plate.  The small crumbs from the toast.  There is a drop of butter from the toast that has begun to harden.

-Sit still and discover how the food has made you feel.  Notice the absence of hunger, the slightly full feeling.  I am content but not stuffed or uncomfortable.

See, don’t you feel peaceful and relaxed after such a mindful meal!  This activity may take more time than your regular breakfast or lunch routine, but it’s worth it.

Sometimes I like to think about where the food has come from as I prepare it.  The chickens that hatched the eggs, the olive grower and the making of my olive oil.  The baker who prepared the bread that I am toasting.  Although sometimes this can take you away from the preparation or meal too much.  Make sure not to let your mind wander or you will no longer be performing a mindfull act.  Be in control of what you are thinking and completely aware of each part of the preparation and eating of the meal.  Even the cleanup can be done mindfully!

You are not expected to enjoy a mindful meal each morning, noon, and night.  But a mindful meal once or twice a week on your day off could add a few more years to your life.  It could also create some bonding moments and be fun for the whole family.


My morning coffee in one of my favorite mugs, mindfully imbibed!

Sugar is the Devil, as I like to say

Can you stop eating sugar? Here’s my experience and my rules for making it easier.

Have you ever tried to stop eating sugar… for only 10 days? It is nearly impossible unless you plan, purchase, and prepare your food in advance for the full 10 days.  Perhaps someone with more time could be significantly more successful at it.  I, however, was not.       😦

Despite that sad fact, I looked at what I was eating a little closer (somehow that is possible for me).  I’ve been a label reader for many many years, and I know what most of the junk actually is that’s written on them.  Sugar is something I pay attention to and avoid most of the time.  Or I know it’s going to be there and I just look for the food with the least amount.  So why is removing it completely impossible?

Because it is in EVERYTHING!

I’m not exaggerating, food manufacturers add sugar to just about everything.  Things you wouldn’t even expect to have sugar in them will have it creeping on the label adding an extra teaspoon.  That’s 4 more grams that I’m trying to remove!

Added sugar can be found in:

yogurt, milk, milk alternatives (almond, soy, rice), cereal, ready to eat oatmeal, deli meat, bacon, frozen packaged meats, cheese, canned veggies, canned beans, canned fruit, applesauce, juice, soda, pre-made drinks (coffee, tea), mustard, ketchup, relish, peanut butter, jelly, jam, salad dressing, granola bars, protein bars, protein powder, supplements.

I didn’t even cover the sweets!  Baked goods, such as breads and rolls, will almost always have some sugar in them.  The yeast needs the sugar, but these will have the least amount, only about a teaspoon.  Just the other day a friend was looking at the Starbucks pre-packaged frappachinos.  One 16 oz bottle had 43g of sugar, that’s almost 11 teaspoons!  Would you put that many teaspoons of sugar in your coffee at home?  I hope not.

Sugar is a buzzword right now for many reasons.  The connection between eating large amounts of sugar and many common health problems are becoming clearer each year.  Not just the sugar anymore, but all of the artificial substitutes are causing great harm as well.  Research has shown that the extremely sweet taste of artificial sweeteners is wreaking havoc on our hormones that regulate hunger and satiation.  Also, the fake stuff kills the good bacteria in our gut!  Not only are we making ourselves sick, but we are making ourselves sick trying to fix it.

Most of us consume 75 times more sugar than we did 200 years ago.  That’s crazy!  I am a firm believer that it is not necessary, and it’s killing us.  However, let me point out that I love sweets.  Not candy; but yummy homemade cakes, cookies, pies, and desserts of all kinds.  It can become a bit of a problem if I let myself get crazy or forget my very strict rules on purchasing and eating sweets.

Hearken back to a time when I followed my strict rules:

  • Homemade sweets (not from a package) are okay.
  • Anything purchased from Whole Foods Market is okay.
  • Conventional sweets from common grocery stores are not okay.
  • Seasonal candy (Halloween, Christmas, Easter) is not okay
  • Just because someone brought it does not mean I need to eat it.

In addition to these rules, I generally only craved sweets about 1 week out of every month or so (can you guess why?) except during the holidays.  By following my own rules I imposed upon myself nothing was over the top or too much.  If I had time to make something at home I was pleased to enjoy it with my family over the next few days until it was gone.  If I was willing to drive to the Whole Foods Market to purchase a $5 slice of cake, I would eat a few bites each evening after dinner for a few days.  I would never eat cheap crappy candy, and if I did I would almost certainly be disappointed.

My high standards maintained my sophisticated palate.

Then one day, I broke a rule and it all went downhill…and fast.  I found myself eating half a pan (the big throw away kind) of rice crispie treats my boss brought into work.  I was by myself and every time I stopped working for a second I would break off a piece.  Over the course of the next month I was snacking on Christmas candy when I felt a little hungry during the day, eating 5-10 reese’s peanut butter cups during work, buying 4 packs of doughnuts and eating all of them in a single day, and sneaking my kid’s candy from the candy jar when she wasn’t home or in bed.

When I would buy snacks I wasn’t even sharing with my family.  I would hide the treats and eat them after bedtime or take them to work.  What was going on?  What happened to my strict rules?!  Not only was I consuming huge amounts of junk and not following my strict rules, but I wasn’t really enjoying most of it.  I’ll admit the doughnuts from Orland Park Bakery were delicious, but the candy was sugary crap.  It didn’t even taste that good.  The chocolate didn’t taste chocolaty, the caramel wasn’t rich and buttery, everything just had a bland sweet sugar taste.

Fast forward to now, only a mere 3 months later.  I’m going back to my rules, although I have amended them somewhat.  I’m not sure about Whole Foods Market ingredient standards since they were purchased by Amazon.  I still buy things from there, including birthday cakes and other party desserts.  However, I will no longer drive there for a $5 slice of cake.  I try to make my own desserts every time I crave them.  If I don’t have time to make it then I don’t get to have it.  I’m also working on making treats without adding sugar.  I use fruit, dark chocolate, whipped cream, or coconut added to whatever I’m making.  These additions, along with cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and vanilla give my treats the illusion of being sweet without all the added sugar.

Someday soon I hope to be able to cut out sugar for 10 days.  Although I don’t think I can cut out the honey I put in my morning coffee unless I’m ready to give up coffee too!  The planning process is going to take a little longer for me.  I can plan meals and snacks for 10 days but I’ll need some back up meals that don’t contain sugar or it will be another bust.

Everything is a work in progress.




Time for Adventure!

Why are we here? Not philosophically, but on this blog. We are here for adventure!

It can be hard to mix good nutrition with the average busy family life.  I honestly can’t say I’ve mastered it yet.  However, nutrition is, and should be an important part of life if we want to stay healthy and reduce our risk of disease.  Nutrition is my passion and I’ve learned so much along the way.  I’d like to share what I have learned, and want to learn, in a fun way.  This includes recipes, fun posts, activities, and experiments.  Everything about food and nutrition can be an adventure.  If you’d like to join in the adventures of food and nutrition then visit regularly, subscribe by email, or add my blog to your reader.  Let the fun and adventure in nutrition begin!

Fruits and veggies