blog2Growing up in a household with 4 adults and 5 other kids was interesting.  We all lived with my grandmother, Momma Mary, and she cooked every day.  We had plenty of food to eat, but getting healthy foods, without additions, was a whole other story.

Momma Mary was a true, old school, soul food cook.  She cooked plenty of peas and greens from the garden (both with a hefty load of salt pork or fat back), and buttermilk cornbread (often with a heavy heaping of lard).  She also often cooked chicken (mostly fried), that she so gracefully brought in from the yard, and pork that had previously resided up the hill in the pen….and we ate it without putting much thought into it. It was her labor of love…and we loved eating it!! Little did I know; those formative years were the beginnings of my relationship with food.

When I went to college, I continued to eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it.  I never paid attention to calories, how I felt when I ate, what triggered me to eat, or what the food really looked like (not even as I studied to become a dietitian 🤦).  I just ate…mindlessly. Luckily, I was still benefitting from being a cheerleader in middle and high school.  I continued to be active in college by taking classes, like jazz dance, that forced me to move.

The last few years, leading up to turning 50, have proven to be quite a different story! I find that I can’t eat the same way I did in the past, plus I’m not nearly as active.  What I am becoming, though, is intentional about my eating habits.  I ask myself questions like:

“Why am I still eating when I’m full?”

“Am I hungry or just bored?”

“Do I just want to eat, or do I need to eat?”

“Does this plate have enough color on it?”

I am using my mind over my meals!

The idea of being mindful about eating is a new concept for me. As I get older, it’s becoming more important to me too. Mindful eating centers around being more in tune with what/why I’m eating, controlling my cravings, and paying attention to how I feel about food.

Being more in tune to the foods I eat is proving to be one of the most beneficial tools in my health box.  I find myself gravitating to “pretty” foods, those fruits and veggies with bounties of color. Crunchy foods like carrots, celery and peppers, instead of chips…. especially since I can dip them in anything I would dip a chip in 👧🏽. I also find myself turning the tv off when eating dinner, instead of munching while distracted.  These approaches are allowing me to enjoy my food more, appreciate the pleasure of different textures, and recognize when I’m full.

The other good news is, I try to only put appropriate portions on my plate.  Do I overdo it sometimes?  Absolutely! But, it’s much less often than I used to, and I attribute that to paying attention to having better control over my eating habits.

I asked my hubby-to-be for a treadmill….and he got it 👏🏽! Now, I can supplement my walking at work with walking some nights when I get home. Even if I only spend 10 minutes on the treadmill, it’s 10 minutes well spent, and my heart smiles because of it!! Whatever I do, I’m learning that if I don’t think about it ahead of time, it usually doesn’t happen.

Let’s face it.  No one’s eating and physical activity habits are perfect (and they don’t have to be 🙌🏽).  As I/we continue our Scale Back Alabama/healthy lifestyle journey, let’s just strive to be more mindful of why we eat, what we eat, how much we eat, what it looks, smells, and tastes like, and how much we move.

Join me! Hopefully we will all benefit from using our minds over our meals…and our heels or wheels🚶🏽!

Teresa Fair, MA, RDN, LD
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