Mindful Eating – a way to rid the guilt

Howdy everyone! Farmer Ashley here with some functional medicine farmer tips.

Today I am covering: Mindful Eating

Yes, that’s my husband (Paul) hugging me with a headlock. And yes, we are eating homemade birthday cupcakes. And yes, that is pure joy on my face thanks to both the human connection and the delicious (rare) sugary delight.

We’ve all heard of the 80/20 concept. We try to eat well 80% of the time leaving 20% wiggle room. I personally prefer clients to adhere to 90/10, making that 10% more rare, delightful indulgences. The other 80% of the time, we are often caught in a vicious cycle of guilt because we can’t stay on our own clean food wagon.

Enters mindful eating to save the day!

Michael Pollan writes, “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” In my case that means don’t eat anything found in our food system after 1860 (my grandmother was born in the 1890s). And the first piece of low-priced, main commodity candy didn’t birth until 1896 (Tootsie Roll). So that means no cheap, toxic candy for my family! Before that, candies and confections were a rare, pure delight. I like the sound of that! That’ll work just fine. 🙂

Today it’s easy to begin the day in a rush backed by a quick breakfast of sugar. Mid-day we crash and seek an array of more sugar. Then by dinner we are so overwhelmed by the day that we eat…processed “on-the-go” full of? Yep. More sugar. (Can you tell what my first book is about?)

I propose a different route. Not a super-strict route. Just a different, more-focused route. A mindful way of eating that will help keep your family’s immune system strong and emotions balanced. These five tips serve as a starting point:

1. Start the day with focus

Allow for time when you wake up to reflect on the upcoming day BEFORE the chaos ensues. Whether this is a workout to snap the day into focus or quiet reflection time, you will find yourself more capable of keeping your family’s health goals on track. This daily mindfulness brings attention to the intuitive voice within you that guides you and your family. We often forget that we are mammals and survived for thousands of years based on this intuition — completely void of modern diseases of inflammation. That voice is a dull whisper if you pop out of bed and begin the chaos without first communicating with your deeper, ancestral YOU. Then the vicious cycle of personal and parent guilt worsens because you beat yourself up about not meeting your family’s health goals. A simple, dedicated switch to starting the day off with focus will help in life-changing ways!

2. No fast food

I know, that sounds a bit hard-edge, but honestly, fast food is a flat-out bad habit. Here we are — trying our best to adhere to our 80/20 (or 90/10) rule. And we ruin it with a guilt-ridden fast food purchase? Why not leave our wiggle room for family experiences worth something more than cheap fast food? Perhaps if you need a night out, support your local cleaner restaurant. Or make a homemade, real-ingredient gingerbread house as a family ritual, topped with naturally-dyed sprinkles, real marshmallows and organic candy. YUM! And sure to bring plenty of memorable smiles.

Or indulge in your favorite family dessert recipe. I make delish gluten-free sour cream cupcakes at every family birthday. I then whip together a homemade frosting and top with organic candy. In this pictured cupcake platter, I crafted dirt-worm cupcakes for my son’s 10th birthday. Worth the 10% wiggle and smiles! Plus, when you stop eating fast food, your bank account amount will magically increase! Clean living is expensive enough. Find the breaks where you can. No more fast food!

3. Check in with your hunger before you eat

Stress eating is a thing for all ages. Plus, children eat when bored. It annoys me to no end when my four sons come raiding the kitchen for a carby snack only TEN MINUTES after the previous request for a carby snack. How many times do they want to hear the word “No?” I sound like a broken record. But I never cave. I send them to the garden for a carrot or to the fridge for a fresh piece of fruit. As for us adults, we often eat when in need of emotional support. We have a tribe of people for that! Next time before you eat, ask yourself, “Am I actually hungry? Will this food provide me with the nutrients my body needs? Or am I just seeking support from food and can instead turn to a human for that affection?” Your tribe is waiting for you. Choose the long-term, calming touch of a human instead of the short-term, guilt-to-follow reward of sugary food.

4. Choose foods wisely

Learning about micronutrients in foods can help you guide your family’s nutritional needs. Be sure to enjoy high-quality fats and proteins, especially earlier in the day to lessen sugar/carb cravings. When eating carbs and starches, choose gluten-free foods that are free of processed sugar. Avoid artificial anything. The human body has no idea how to read those ingredients and goes into attack mode. In short: Read the labels. Can you pronounce everything? Are the ingredients traceable to a plant or animal without heavy processing standing in the way?

5. And lastly, be a leader

What’s the top concern from parents? “I can control food at home but lose control at school.” I agree schools have a long way to go with the sugar reward culture. But they need your leadership! Nowadays, with the dramatic rise in obesity and childhood behavior issues, teachers won’t argue when you ask for less sugar in the classroom. Offer solutions along the way! Bring in alternatives. Offer experiences instead of rewards. Children ultimately long for experiences more than sugar, but they need our leadership to remind them of that (dopamine vs serotonin). This is hard for us because we are struggling with our own cravings and dopamine fixes, but serving humanity is a great medicine to overcome this. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by those around you when you educate and offer solutions full of all the grace your heart can shed.

Tomorrow I will dive deeper into processed sugar and the havoc it wreaks on the mind and body. Stay tuned. And thanks for reading. I hope this piece serves you and your family well!

Love you.
Farmer Ashley

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