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:
Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch MS, RD
Eat Q by Susan Albers PsyD
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
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