Chips, cookies, candy bars and cake. Other than their fat and sugar content, these things all have common theme: They are all snacks many people cant get enough of but feel horrible about eating afterward.
Kathy Thomas, a health educator at Good Shepherd Medical Center, hosted a Delicious Temptations mindful eating class Thursday night to introduce a very different way of thinking about dieting, food and staying healthy.
She said when people diet, most go through phases of good and bad periods before giving up the diet altogether when they realize it doesnt work. She said the real key to peoples unhealthy lifestyles today is people they have gotten away from actually enjoying eating.
We have a habit of thinking that there are bad foods out there and that there are good foods out there, Thomas said. I am going to show you that that kind of thinking doesnt work.
Thomas said, through four principle steps, people can learn how to enjoy their food and stay healthy at the same time.
The first step is for people to allow themselves to become aware of the positive aspects of food preparation and consumption.
Thomas said what she means by this is for people to take the time to consider what went into creating the food, whether it be a snack that was bought at the store or a dish made at home, and then taking the time to enjoy the food.
The second step is choosing to eat foods that are both pleasing and nourishing and using all of the senses to explore, savor and taste.
Thomas said that is just as important as eating the food. She said the color, shape, texture and what went in to making the food are all important things to consider when eating.
She said the process allows the individual to slow down and enjoy what they are eating, while also sending accurate messages to the brain about when the stomach is actually full.
We often rush through eating, she said. We gobble things down, and you cant even tell what the texture of the food was. You dont know if it was salty. You dont know if it was crunchy. Those are cues that your body provides to say I am full. When you rush through it, your body doesnt know that you are full. So what do we do? We eat more than we are supposed to.
Thomas said it takes about eight minutes for the brain to communicate to the rest of the body it is full. When people rush through their meals, not only is it not a satisfying experience, but they end up over-eating.
The third step is acknowledging responses to food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.
Thomas said it is important for people to realize everyone is unique in their eating habits, and certain foods are more favorable or more beneficial to some people as opposed to others.
She said if individuals dont like a certain food item, they shouldnt eat it.
I hate bananas, but I enjoy other fruits, so I be sure to partake in those other fruits that I enjoy, Thomas said. I dont want you eating foods that you dont like just because you have to. Experiment in life. Find another food that provides the same vitamins for you but you actually enjoy.
The fourth and final step is learning to be aware of physical hunger and filling cues to guide decisions of when to begin eating and to stop eating.
Thomas said people should be cognizant of the feelings they get when they eat a great meal as opposed to gorging themselves on chocolate or eating a double serving at dinner.
It doesnt feel good afterwards, she said. If you are mindful and aware of how you feel afterward, you are more likely to not repeat the action.
Thomas said when people are born, they are healthy and have a good outlook on food.
She said people are later introduced to messages that reinforce negative stereotypes and behavior such as the words diet, slim, thin and model perfect.
It is hard for us to break away from that, she said. We are bombarded, especially women, that we have got to look a certain way ... Health goes out the door. It is all about weight, and it really trips us up.
Thomas said if people just slow down and are mindful of what they are eating, it becomes easier to eat healthier, and people dont have to feel bad about themselves.
Does it mean that you are going to be really thin and lose all that weight? she said. It may be that you wont, but it may be that you are going to be healthier and enjoying life more. That is really where I would like people to go.
Thomas said setting realistic goals about ones self is also a huge part of eating healthy.
She said people tend to go overboard when they say that they are going to give up chocolate or any other food for six months.
She said it is important for people to live in the now and focus on immediate goals rather than six months down the road and to still consume foods that people enjoy eating.
If we deprive ourselves of foods that we really enjoy, we go overboard, she said.
Heppner resident Sandra Johnson attended the class Thursday and said she really enjoyed it.
I think it was excellent, she said. We need to get out of this mind set that every time we eat something we have to feel guilty.
Hermiston resident Mary Ann Anson agreed, stating the class was very interesting and informative.
I think it will be very helpful, she said. We need to think of what we are doing instead of just stuffing things into our mouth.
Thomas said the class is offered every six months for people who want to attend in the future.
She said Good Shepherd has other classes available, however, including a Give Me Five class for people who hate exercising, which will take place at 6 p.m. Oct. 16.
To sign up or for information, contact Thomas at 541-667-3502.