What is a Mindful Indulgence?

One phrase you'll hear us repeat often when clients ask about going off plan is "make it a mindful indulgence".   What do we mean when we say that?  Let's break down exactly what makes an indulgence mindful and worth it, versus what types of eating will keep you stuck in a cycle of thoughtless choices.

A Mindful Indulgence IS: 

1) Planned ahead of time.  You know you're having a special dinner or a weekend meal with loved ones and you've planned to have a treat.  You've been taking care of yourself during the week and know what you're looking forward to having.

2) Guilt Free.  The dictionary defines indulgence as "allowing oneself to enjoy the pleasure of" so make sure you do just that! Our unofficial theory is guilty calories go right to your waistline.  You decided to have a treat and should eat it without any feelings of remorse or guilt.  Never use the word "cheat"- this isn't marriage and the word cheat implies misbehavior.

3) Enjoyed. If you don't love it, stop eating it.  So what if you had been looking forward to that special dessert?  If you took a bite and it wasn't that great, put down the fork and save it for something you love. 

4) Consumed Slowly and Deliberately.  No scarfing down that meal, or you'll quickly overdo it.  Put your fork down between bites.

6) Special or Culturally Meaningful.  We have clients who are from cultures where noodles on your birthday are eaten for luck and longevity- and absolutely you should respect and honor that!  If you are Jewish, have some Challah as part of Rosh Hashanah. Your family's annual peach pie contest or making homemade ice cream with your kids are equally special moments. Just make it a reasonable portion and consume it with intention.

7) A Once-In-A-Lifetime Moment.  Okay, not every week will have iconic moments, but it's a good example of when it's truly worth it. If you're sitting on a bench in Paris with your partner, splitting a fresh hot croissant is absolutely a mindful treat... just not every morning!


A Mindful Indulgence is NOT:

1)  Eaten standing up, out of the carton/bag, out of the fridge, or off of someone else's plate. Make yourself a serving, sit down, and eat slowly. Treat the food and yourself with respect.

2) A "typical" portion- most American portions are 3-4 times the size anyone should be having.  What we think of as a "sliver of cake" is the appropriate serving of a treat. Either serve yourself or eat less than half.

3) Eaten multiple times until it's gone. Don't keep picking at leftovers or take what you didn't eat home to have the next day.  It's an indulgence- not indulgences.  

4) A "little bit of everything" - A mindful indulgence is NOT tasting a bite of everything at a buffet.  It's having mostly healthy choices and choosing one or two small worth-it items.  Not nibbling on a taste of everything.

5) ALL the Things.  A small portion of crisp truffle fries with a filet is a delicious treat.  A plate of fries smothered in chili, cheese, and sour cream is not.  Keep it simple and delicious.   

6) Fake Food or Poor Quality.  Sorry, we will never endorse eating chemical-laden food. That is not treating your body with respect and fuels disease and inflammation. Delicious handmade chocolates from Switzerland? Awesome. A Snickers? Nope, save your treats for something that doesn't come with a wrapper.

7) An impulsive choice. The second we hear words like "oh it just looked so good" or "I had to", we know the client was not in control of their choice. 

8) Table scraps. Nibbling leftover pizza crust is something the family dog can do. That is not a mindful indulgence. If you had planned to indulge in pizza, have a small slice sitting down and enjoy it.

9) Eaten just because it's a holiday/celebration. Yes, please, do eat cake on your birthday or anniversary if t part of your celebration.  That said, life is full of celebrations.  If it is your child/partner/friend's birthday you don't *necessarily* need to indulge just because the cake is in front of you. Think about if you really want to have that treat or if you're just going through the motions because it's a celebration and it's there. 

10) "Because this place is known for their..." The world is full of amazing restaurants.  Most of our clients are fortunate enough to dine out or travel often. If indulge every time you come across an amazing dish you'll quickly undo all your progress. 

11) Eaten when you're sad/angry/etc.  You cannot make mindful and joyous choices when you're feeding a negative emotion.  Don't self-soothe with food or you'll stay stuck in a cycle of emotional eating. Go for a walk, take a bath, or practice other forms of self-care.

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