With my clients, I talk a lot about what you can add to your menu rather than what you can subtract. This is a very different way of thinking about food and eating. Here is an example of one of those foods that you can include in your snacking repertoire. It is a great item to help curb comfort eating.
Although hummus has a long history (dating back to ancient Egypt), it doesn't get a lot of press. In my opinion, hummus is the new peanut butter (I talk about this in the September edition of Women's Health magazine). You can put it on anything to give it more flavor and substance-crackers, sandwiches, veggies, chips etc.
How can hummus help you to eat more mindfully? It is a good source of fiber and protein, two things that can add to your sense of fullness. Thus, it makes you less vulnerable to comfort and stress eating. Hummus also contains 20 Amino Acids and Tryptophan (related to serotonin -- which helps you to feel calm). Some brands also contain Omega 3, which is also helpful for regulating your mood and reducing inflammation and pain. Sounds pretty good doesn't it?
If you haven't tried it yet, it may be because you are unfamiliar with what it is. Hummus is ground up chickpeas blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. Before you say, "hmmm, chickpeas don't sound good," it is worth giving it a try. Too often our minds won't even consider food that is new or unfamiliar to us.
If you've tried hummus and haven't been too crazy about the taste, there are a lot of new flavors with zip like fresh cilantro, spices, olive tapenade, savory mushroom and a light drizzle of olive oil and dusting of paprika on top of classic hummus. We get the wrong idea that healthy food can't taste good. Mindful eating is about eating just the right portion of the foods you love and enjoy. When you fill up on healthy foods, you no longer reach for whatever chips or cookies you have handy.
For an interesting recipe with hummus (pasta), see Rachael Ray.
The lesson: If you are vulnerable to stress eating, hummus is a food which may have many mood and energy enhancing benefits for you.
Susan Albers, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic specializing in eating issues, weight loss, body image concerns, and mindfulness. She is the author of But I Deserve This Chocolate!: The Fifty Most Common Diet-Derailing Excuses and How to Outwit Them, 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food, Eating Mindfully, Eat, Drink, and Be Mindful, and Mindful Eating 101 and is a Huffington Post and Psychology Today blogger. Her books have been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, O, the Oprah Magazine, Natural Health, Self Magazine and on the Dr. Oz TV show. Visit Albers online at http://www.eatingmindfully.com.