Three Keys to Mindful Eating (and an Awesome Recipe for Kale Chips)

Mindful Eating, Work, Coaching, Danielle Collins, Primavera

You work so hard every day in the nonprofit world.  Your job is BIG and IMPORTANT and you are dramatically changing our world for the better.

Thank you.

Can I ask you a question?  When you’re busy taking care of everyone else, are you first taking care of yourself?

So many of us are not.  I get it.  It’s incredibly hard to do, because you have too much work on your plate, and time becomes so precious.  We convince ourselves that our wellbeing is something we can think about outside of our job, should there ever be enough time.  We tell ourselves that we have to choose between wellness, or being “successful” in our career.

Rubbish.

This is a delusion.  We can enjoy health and wellbeing, AND enjoy meaningful jobs.  In fact, the healthier we are in all dimensions of wellness, the more productive we’ll be at work.

As a coach, I help my clients identify beliefs that are no longer serving them.  I also work with them to focus on areas where they are motivated to improve, such as eating, communicating, or playing.  Taking small, positive steps forward creates exciting outcomes.  To learn more about how you might benefit from coaching, click here.

To be at our best, we first have to understand where we currently are.  Ask yourself:

  • When is the last time you ate in your car while commuting? How often do you eat fast food?  Do you remember tasting or enjoying the food, or did it serve as basic sustenance?
  • How often do you work through your lunch? And then realize mid-afternoon that you’re starving, and the only food around is out of the snack machine, and you don’t have enough quarters. . .
  • Or perhaps you have a lot of lunch appointments with donors, so you don’t have the control you’d like over the selection of food you eat.
  • Do you find yourself in the evenings just too tired to shop for groceries or pack a healthy lunch for the next day? Work has worn you out and it seems nothing but unwinding with Netflix will do.

I have done all of these things.  Many times.

Now I can see that they didn’t work for me.  Instead, they pushed me on a slippery path towards feeling chronically overwhelmed and out of sorts.  I wasn’t nourishing my body or soul, so how could I be at my best?

I now see eating as a form of self-care.  It took me a while, but I understand that as adults, we’re all responsible for the food we ingest, and for the food we choose not to eat.  Understanding this doesn’t make it easy though, does it?  Especially when red velvet cake is calling.

We also are responsible for including in our schedules things we deem important.  When did it become acceptable for eating to not be a priority?  It’s a fundamental life process.  If you are the boss, consider the example you set for your employees by taking the time to eat lunch.

Here are three great ideas I learned from my Wellness Inventory training for deepening your awareness around eating:

Three tips for Mindful Eating

  1. Pay attention to how you eat.

Do you eat standing over the sink? Or at your desk?  Or in your car?  Compare how different it feels to instead dine at a table.  With music.  And candles.  This is a stretch at work, so try to leave your desk and go to the lunchroom, or eat outside on a picnic table.  Try being present and notice the food on your plate, its color, its texture.  Eat slowly and savor each bite.  Use your senses to fully enjoy the moment.  Be present.

  1. Pay attention to what you eat.

Do you enjoy the delicious cheddariness of Cheetos?  Or rely on sodas for energy?  I know you know that junk food has empty calories.  We get in the habit of eating automatically, without thinking about what we’re putting in our mouths.

I encourage you to take the time to think about the food you’re eating.  I enjoyed Michael Pollan’s book, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual.  In a nutshell, his premise is:  “Eat food.  Mostly plants.  Not too much.”

He explains that the processed foods we eat have been created in a lab, and aren’t whole foods.  Nothing is as good for us as whole foods.  Then he provides a variety of tips to help us choose the food we eat.

If this sounds overwhelming, keep in mind that you don’t have to make drastic changes.  Instead, you can choose one small step towards eating more mindfully.  Consider focusing on adding one healthy food, rather than eliminating a “bad” one.

For example, perhaps you decide to eat more organic foods.  Pesticides are found on a variety of vegetables and fruits, so this is a great choice.  Click here for a Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

  1. Pay attention to why you eat.

We eat at work to satisfy our hunger.  We also may eat because we are feeling stressed and emotional.  If we’re lucky, we’re eating to maintain an optimal level of energy and health.

Eating is also deeply aligned with our values.  We may choose to enjoy a vegetarian, or vegan, or organic meal.  It feels good when we live by our values, and it gives meaning to our dining experience.

I’m not much of a cook.  The kitchen, long ago, sensed my fear and has taunted me ever since.  I can, however, follow a recipe if I’m especially motivated.  I’m enjoying this recipe for incredibly delicious kale chips, and want to share it with you.

Awesome Recipe for Kale Chips

Kale, Mindful Eating, Wellness, Wellbeing, Burnout, Danielle Collins, Primavera

You need:

1 bunch of kale (I like dino kale, also called lacinato)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
Additional seasonings to taste (I’m loving garlic powder right now – 1 teaspoon – but you can also use black pepper or lemon pepper.)
Two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper

  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  • Remove the ribs of your kale.
  • Tear the kale into bite-sized pieces.
  • Wash and dry the leaves well. I use a salad spinner to begin to dry them.  I also let them sit for a bit on top of the oven that’s heating up, and that seems to reduce the drops of water. (Excess water will steam in the oven and possibly make the kale soggy.)
  • Mix the oil and spices in a large bowl. Add the kale and mix it well so all the pieces are coated.
  • Spread the kale on the cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake for 12 minutes. Rotate the pans if your wonky oven heats unevenly like mine, then bake for another 12 minutes.  The kale should be crispy, mostly green, and not too brown.

Enjoy!

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P.S.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed, these are warning signs to take care of yourself.  As a coach, I help my clients renew their passion and enjoy wellbeing in all areas of their life.  Click here for a free strategy session.