The road to good nutrition and healthful lifestyle habits is filled with metaphorical forks. Your handling of the fork in the road makes a huge difference in your chances of success. But first you have to notice them. That takes being mindful, and mindfulness is so much more than mindful eating.
Put Your Best Fork Forward is the theme for National Nutrition Month®. We’ve covered making healthful food taste delicious in my post about the cooking fork, and we looked at using your eating fork mindfully. Along with that post was an amazingly delicious and simple recipe for chocolate peanut butter oat balls. We also covered the pitchfork and discussed how food goes from farm to table.
The fork in the road is an opportunity to make one decision over another. Some people simply react. They may, for example, automatically reach for second helpings at dinner or eat a donut or two just because they saw a box of glazed yumminess in the office kitchen. Instead of reacting on autopilot, others may see these situations as choices and act with intention, self-awareness and self-kindness. Choosing to eat the donut is of much less importance than to eat it without noticing the choice point and making a thoughtful decision.
You have power in making the decision, regardless of the actual decision. So try to let go of your autopilot in places where mindfulness really matters. Scan through your day so far. What decisions have you made on autopilot? If you drove to work, you probably drove the route you always drive. That was autopilot, and most likely in a good way. We want to keep our autopilot where it’s helpful – where it frees the mind for other tasks – but get rid of it where it’s not helpful. Maybe you drank your coffee or tea in exactly the same ways as you always do. Or maybe somebody offered you a high calorie, sugary latte and you said “yes” without thought.
Try to identify those opportunities in your day in which ignoring your autopilot and making mindful, thoughtful decisions will do you some good.
I adore the book The Now Effect by Elisha Goldstein, PhD. This easy-to-read book – which I’ve given to my husband and both daughters – has helped me recognize so many more of my choice points. And not just related to nutrition and exercise, but also to negative thoughts and quick judgments. I’ve included The Now Effect in my list of books for gift giving.
Cheers to mindful actions leading to a healthier lifestyle! And happy National Nutrition Month! Put your best fork forward.