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Once I had the great fortune to go to Kenya on a photographic safari. It was a bucket list adventure and one that I recommend to everyone to take if they have, they chance. My trip began in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. My travel companions and I spent a day there before traveling to see the animals. When I was in Nairobi, I was struck by how slim the people were. I don’t recall seeing many overweight or obese person. I also don’t recall seeing many fast food restaurants, food chains or supermarkets. Unlike a typical American or Western European capital city, every corner did not sport a hamburger joint, coffee seller or pizza place. In other words, the Nairobi people were not surrounded by environmental food cues. Environmental cues play a big role in what, when and how much we eat. Close your eyes for a moment and think about your drive to work. Count the number of places you pass that sell food. Include fast food chains, donut shops, coffee stands, supermarkets, gas stations, and liquor stores. We are surrounded by food cues. And, don’t get me started on TV commercials or magazines ads. Cues priming us to eat are everywhere. If you are not mindful, you can easily eat your way through the day, every day. Today notice the food cues in your environment. What happens when you see these cues? Do you want to eat? Do thoughts such as “those look good” or “one won’t hurt” enter your mind? As you answer these questions, be mindful of how these environmental cues might affect your eating and your weight. Adapted from Mindful Bites – Joyful Life: 365 Days of Mindful Eating. Available in bookstores everywhere.


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