Mindful Eating: What’s Chocolate Got to do with It?

Mindful Eating: What's Chocolate Got to do with It?Disclosure: My attendance at the Blog Brûlée is  partially funded by Sponsor’s of the Blog Brûlée.  Opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated for my time.

When I say chocolate you probably don’t say mindful eating. But the two are related! As a lifestyle blogger and a registered dietitian teaching the intuitive approach to eating (another word for mindful eating),  I ‘m uber excited to show you the connection.

But before we get started, let me ask you to examine how you determine your food intake? Do you eat when you’re hungry? Or do you eat in response to external cues, such as a neon sign Hot Donuts Now? A disappointing outcome? a boring afternoon? or something else?

You might find this hard to believe, but you were once a master of  mindful eating! It’s true! We’re all born with the innate ability to self regulate in response to internal cues, namely hunger and feelings of fullness.  Hunger is your body’s way of telling you it needs food.  Feeling full or satisfied is your body’s way of telling you you’ve had enough.  Ignoring feelings of hunger will eventually reduce it’s effectiveness as an indicator for when and how much to eat. Isolated reliance on external cues can often lead to a vicious cycle of over and under eating. A cycle that often stems from years of dieting, deprivation, calorie counting or making food forbidden.

The good news is you can  reestablish the innate feelings of hunger/fulness that will ultimately help you to naturally self-regulate your food intake. The intuitive or mindful approach aims to increase consciousness and create a positive relationship with food.  Eat without distractions and use ALL of your senses.

So what does this have to do with chocolate?  Ok, I promise I’m getting there.  While in Vermont, at the blog brûlée, I took part in a Chocolate Tasting  class. It’s a great way for chocolate lovers, foodies  and culinary experts to delve deeper into the flavor combinations of chocolate.  (By the way, it’s regularly offered to the guests of Smugglers’ Notch.)  But it can also be a lesson in mindful eating; it mirrors the same steps I teach my patients in an intuitive eating lesson. This activity is writen for chocolate, but it can be modified to use with any of your favorite foods. To do this at home,  take one piece of chocolate and follow the 6 chocolate tasting steps:

Chocolate Tasting  (from Lake Champlain Chocolates)

1. Appearance: Look at the chocolate, the packaging, and the label. Unwrap the chocolate and study the shape and color of the chocolate. If tempered, it should have a smooth, high sheen. If grey/white, then the chocolate has bloomed- the fats or sugars have migrated to the surface of the chocolate leaving a whitish residue. This is due to a change in humidity or temperature.

2. Sound: Break the chocolate and listen to the snap. Properly tempered chocolate should have a good, clean snap.

3.  Aroma: With your eyes closed, deeply breathe in the aromas. Identify the fragrances. Milk chocolate may have more of a chocolate aroma. Unfermented beans smell like burnt rubber. Beans stored in humid areas can smell like grass or burlap. Beans dried over wood fires smell smoky.

4. Texture: Anticipate how the chocolate will taste. Then place the chocolate in your mouth. DO NOT BITE! Let the candy melt in your mouth. How does the chocolate feel in your mouth? Quick melt or slow melt? Smooth or chalky?

5. Taste: Savor the flavor and texture. What different notes do you taste in the different stages (beginning, middle, finish). Some common tastes are fruity, buttery, moldy, floral, caramel, or nutty.

6. Evaluate: What did you like or dislike?

The attributes of mindful eating are to derive pleasure from food by capturing its’ pleasures with all of your senses, gaining early satiety and avoiding the urge to overeat.    Learn to slow down and savor what you eat. Explore, taste, and decide for yourself!

A registered dietitian can help you on your journey to better health by learning to be a mindful eater. Find a dietitian in your area at  www.eatright.org.  You can also learn the techniques on your own. Here are some helpful resources to get started:

Books

Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch MS, RD

Eat Q by Susan Albers PsyD

Blogs

Mindful Meals

The Real Life RD

A weight lifted: healthy weight management for women tired of dieting

Related Blog Posts

How to Eat Intuitively: A Guide to Mindful Eating , Anne Mauney, MPH, RD

Why You Should Throw Away your Scale, Anne Mauney, MPH, RD

My Related Blog Posts

Seeking Comfort: Food vs Feelings + Mood Boosting Playlist

Stop Dieting: It’s all about Lifestyle

 

 

 

 

Blog Brûlée Will be My First: What do I hope for?

Blog_Brulee_LogoDisclosure: My attendance at the Blog Brûlée is  partially funded by Sponsor’s of the Blog Brûlée and  I have received a discounted registration to the event in exchange for writing this post.  Opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated for my time.

There’s nothing else like doing something for the first time! It’s exciting! And  exhilarating! Even  a bit scary.  Right now, I’m feeling all of these sensations as I plan my trip to Vermont to attend my very first blogging conference, and the inaugural Blog Brûlée! Today’s post is about what I hope to achieve during the weekend of September 12-14  in the mountains with 30 food bloggers!

Like all continuing education conferences, I will be trying to fill my noggin with as much information as will stick. What type of know how is necessary for a good food blog?   If there’s one thing I have learned from  blogging it’s this: gorgeous  photos lure  people to your site. Taking pictures of  food is NOT something that comes natural to me. When I first began my blog (this September will be my third year anniversary), I didn’t know a thing about photography and getting a picture to go along with my post was not a piece of cake.  Admittedly, I still struggle with it at times today.  So here’s  something that thrills me;   I will be picking up photography skills from 3 amazing gals –  I consider them the  crème de la crème of food photography: Regan Jones of Healthy Aperture; Gretchen Brown of Kumquat; and Deanna Seagrave-Daily of Teaspoon of Spice. What an opportunity!

What else is important? You’ve probably heard this before but I will repeat it, content is king! I cannot think of two better individuals to share their  advice on  the art of story telling than media personality Brierley Wright from EatingWell.com and Eating Well Magazine (one of my personal favorite foodie magazines)  and Dallas, Texas based nutrition and culinary expert Robin Plotkin of Robinsbite. Nutrition is a science, but writing about nutrition is an art.  This creative outlet (along with photography) brings balance to my work day!

Better story telling and  improved images here we come!!! Is there more? Yes, on a strictly personal note,  I am seeking direction. It’s great not having a boss, but there’s a down side to flying solo. Sometimes you need someone to be honest. Someone to  tell you… this is great.. or lousy… or   you should spend more time doing this… or  you’re wasting your time on that.  I hate that at the end of the day when my husband asks, “What can I do to help you?”  I have to answer,   “I don’t know!”  I am looking forward to three speakers who are champions when it comes to building a virtual community. EA Stewart, the Spicy RD, has a strategy that  aligns with  her personal philosophy. Then there is the dynamic duo, Janice Bissex and Liz Weiss, aka Meal Makeover Moms, who have mastered the art of name recognition! Online communities are here and now.  My membership in the  blogging community Recipe Redux has been an all around positive experience and I attribute much of the growth of my blog to this virtual community.  Of course I’m  curious how I can continue to use social media  to influence,  grow and create more opportunities.

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Behind the scenes with my faithful assistant!

Last but not  least, I hope to recharge my battery.   Outside of the time I spend with private patients and public speaking, most of my work-time is spent alone;  reading, writing, developing recipes, prepping food, grocery shopping, cooking, taking and editing photographs, planning menus and meal patterns, brainstorming and putting together power point presentations.  It’s quiet and it gets lonely (thank goodness for my son’s chocolate lab, Brody).  It will be great to have some up-close and personal time with individuals I communicate with online and I’m enthusiastic to hear about each and every speaker’s and attendee’s  experiences, ideas, passions and dreams.  Let’s face it, food bloggers feed off of each other! Pun intended.

Before I close, I’m shouting out to all the generous brands  for making this inaugural event possible.  I know my first time will be a memorable one! Thank you!

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