Balanced Eating

I Struggled with My Eating: How Mindful Eating + Other Strategies Helped Me

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This post was developed in partnership with siggi’s Canada #ad. All opinions expressed are my own.

Have you ever struggled with your eating habits? I have. Especially when I was in University. Despite studying to become a Registered Dietitian, I felt like I didn’t have a handle on my own eating habits – I had tons of sugar cravings, my portions were consistently too big, and I didn’t seem to ever not be hungry. To me, this was shameful. How could I help others, when I felt like I was doing it all wrong myself?

I was so focused on getting the top grades, getting the work/volunteer experience, exercising regularly, all while still trying to maintain a social life/relationship/be a good human overall. I think I had a little bit too much on my plate at that time.

During my Masters degree, I stumbled across the concept of mindful eating.

Why hadn’t I heard of this before? At that time, I was the furthest thing from a mindful eater.  I was a stress eater. I was a distracted eater. I was a quick eater. I wasn’t eating the right things – and because of that I also wasn’t getting enough protein.

Keep reading to discover the strategies that I am working on now to address some of these problems.

Problem: I was a quick eater

Solution: I am still a quick eater…however there are a few ways that I try to slow down. These include:

  • Putting my fork/spoon down between bites
  • I talk and listen to others that I am dining with, without holding my utensil in my hand
  • I get up and take a break halfway through my meal, pausing to assess my fullness
  • I pay attention to the rate of my eating by timing myself occasionally – my goal is to spend 15-20 minutes on each meal.

Problem: I wasn’t always eating food with staying power

Solution: I look for food with only a few, simple, whole ingredients

In University I often ended up purchasing ‘low fat’ and processed food products. If I’m honest, at that time in my life diet culture was affecting me – even though I was in school to become a Registered Dietitian. The best example of this struggle is the yogurts I would purchase with artificial sweeteners, flavours, fillers, etc. These were never filling or satisfying. If only siggi’s yogurts were available then. siggi’s Skyr yogurts are super creamy, high in protein with not a lot of sugar. What’s best is that they’re made with 100% natural ingredients – all of the flavours and colours come exclusively from real fruit or the vanilla bean. Today, when I eat siggi’s I feel very satisfied – especially when I take the time to sit down at my table, eat slowly and enjoy every bite I take. These yogurts just taste like real, whole, delicious food. As someone who mostly maintains a plant-based diet, the protein punch siggi’s yogurts pack is especially important to me.

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Problem: I was a distracted eater, always eating on the go

Solution: I’ve made a commitment to only eating when I am at a table

Eating in the car? Yes that was me.

Eating in front of a screen? All the time.

I’ve discovered that eating with distractions, such as the TV, computer, or eating in the car, prevented me from checking in with my hunger and fullness cues.

Now, I’ve made one simple rule that I have to go by: Eat Only At A Table. This is a super rule to prevent distractions. Ultimately, this rule helps me to check in with my body while eating so I can recognize these cues more easily.

Problem: I ate for mouth hunger often

Solution: I check in to see what type of hunger I’m experiencing

One of my favourite strategies to use with clients is called “Is it Stomach, Mouth or Heart Hunger?” I teach my clients to identify the type of hunger they just experienced, after eating. They are as follows:

Stomach Hunger – true hunger. You haven’t eaten for 5-6 hours.

Mouth Hunger – wanting the physical pleasure of food.

Heart Hunger – eating for how you’re feeling mentally and emotionally.

I experienced, and still experience a lot of mouth hunger and some heart hunger. When I’m anxious, I want to be chewing on something, or sipping on something. It has been helpful for me to check in and ask myself what type of hunger I’m experiencing and have strategies to combat these types of hunger on hand. For example, I always keep gum or tea bags on me to satisfy mouth hunger.

Although I felt shameful for struggling with my eating habits while learning to help others with theirs, ultimately my own battle helped me connect with others better. I was never a perfect eater – and never will be! But at least I know what you are going through and I know how to help.

Written by Nicole Osinga, RD, MAN, BASc

I'm a Registered Dietitian who works with clients in the Durham Region! I use evidence-based recommendations to help you achieve your nutrition goals. I have many hearty and delicious recipes to share! My office is in Courtice, ON. I regularly work with clients from Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Newcastle, Bowmanville and Courtice.

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