LAST weekend one of my oldest, dearest friends flew in from London and we headed off to the West. We ate and drank and ate some more as we caught up on the past few years, which have been dominated by our growing families.
We feasted on bagels and buns, chips and chocolate, biscuits and beer as I introduced her to the stunning isolation of the Aran Islands. My jeans felt tight afterwards, but it was all part of the fun.
It’s easy to catastrophise after overindulging, but one weekend spent making bad food choices is not going to have any serious long-term effects. Lose the guilt and move on because it’s your daily food intake that really counts.
But what if devouring a giant bar of Dairy Milk becomes a regular thing? Overeating can lead to 1weight gain – and all the major health issues linked to excess pounds – poor body image, depression and anxiety.
To stop this happening, look at your diet. Rose Costello, health and nutrition coach with The Health Habit (healthhabit.org), understands that nibbling on lettuce at lunchtime will only lead to you raiding the biscuit tin at 4pm.
‘Filling half your plate with salad is ideal,’ she says. ‘But what if you don’t find it satisfying and find yourself wanting more? ‘The key is to make sure you also have some protein and good fats at each meal. An easy way to do this is to add beans, chickpeas or hummus. Or you might want some cheese or meat.
Tasteless, repetitive meals are a fast route to overeating, says Rose. ‘Experiment instead. Green salads can be boring unless you spice them up with good dressing. Our supermarkets are now stocked with olive oil infused with basil, hazelnut or chilli, for example.
‘Investigate new salads, such as chicory, endive or radish. Lightly steam asparagus. You may discover a new love.’
She also suggests increasing your fibre intake. ‘About 80% of Irish people don’t get enough fibre. This can be from fruit, vegetables and wholegrains or beans and legumes. Fibre helps your digestion, but it also makes us feel fuller for longer on fewer calories. So have another helping of salad. Or fill up on brown rice and beans.’ One simple trick to improve your eating habits is using a mudra, which is a kind of yoga position for your hands and fingers.
Mudras are said to work on influencing different energy flows in the body, but on a more practical level, they instantly connect the body and mind. Throw in a positive-focus breathing technique and you can calm the nervous system, soothe your mind and maybe resist the urge to open a packet of biscuits. It will also make you feel better if the deed is done!
Sit in a comfortable position on the floor or on a chair. Lengthen the spine and relax the shoulders. Form chin mudra, the gesture of consciousness, by bringing your index finger and thumb together to form a circle. Do this with both hands resting on your thighs and turn the palms upwards.
Notice your breath rise and fall in a wavelike motion. Sensations, thoughts and feelings will arise. Don’t judge them; instead welcome them with warmth and compassion, whatever they may be. Feel that warmth and softness in the body deepen on every exhale as you practice self-acceptance and silence your inner critic. Do this for a couple of minutes. Connect to this mudra whenever you need it.
As for yoga poses, gentle twists, such as the seated twist pictured here, help to boost digestion and increase circulation to the abdominal organs after you’ve overeaten. If you have a food craving, try it out too – regular yoga helps you tune into your body and what it really needs. Which is probably not a large bag of chips.
Ultimately, this is about having a healthy relationship with food. Learn how to respect what you eat and truly savour every mouthful. After all, food is one of the great joys of life!
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