You may have heard the term “mindful eating” a few times by now, but what exactly does it mean? Mindfulness is the act of bringing full attention and awareness to an experience in the moment, without judgement. With that, mindful eating is the practice of being fully aware of our thoughts, feelings, and sensations related to eating.
This technique is meant to help you gain control over your eating habits which often results in weight loss, reduces binge eating, and overall helps you feel better by changing your relationship with food. If you are looking to bring more mindfulness to your diet and life, here are some powerful habits to try in 2019.
Pay attention to what you are eating and do not allow for any distractions during meal time. This is a huge part of being mindful because it keeps our full attention on what we are doing. The opposite of this would be mindless eating, where you are totally distracted and munching on food at the same time. Pro tip: leave your phone in another room, turn off the tv, and sit down at the table when you eat your meals.
Our fast-paced world makes it difficult to slow down and be mindful about anything, let alone eating. Most people are running from work to appointments to family gatherings and eating on the go has become the norm. It takes about 20 minutes for your mind to process that your body is full, how can you expect to not overeat when you’re consuming an entire meal in less than 10 minutes? By sitting down and slowing down while eating, you are allowing your body to catch up to your brain in order to properly signal that you are satiated. Other small ways to help you slow down are thoroughly chewing each bite and setting your utensil down between bites.
Since most people live a relatively busy life, a huge part of mindful eating means planning your meals in advance. If you are on the go throughout the day, set yourself up for success by bringing a healthy, well-rounded meal with you. High quality ingredients and nutrient dense foods will fuel your body and provide energy to help you get through your day, while quick, unhealthy options will slow you down and make you feel crappy. Preparation is very important for mindful eating.
Listen to Your Body.
Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. By slowing down your eating process, your mind is moving at the same speed as your body and you are able to actually understand when you are full. Knowing your body’s personal hunger signals is key to mindful eating. If you need help recognizing what your hunger signals are, we recommend keeping a food journal for at least two weeks. You should write down when and what you eat as well as what you were doing and how you felt before you ate.
Assess Your Hunger Levels.
Oftentimes, our body mistakes other emotions or feelings as hunger. A lot of times when we don’t consume enough water, our body thinks we are hungry. Some people even feel hunger when they are sad, bored, or stressed out, but that doesn’t mean that their body is actually hungry. By thinking about your hunger levels, you are forcing yourself to slow down and be mindful instead of reaching for the first unhealthy snack you see when you aren’t even hungry.
Think About How you are Eating.
Mindlessly wandering around from cabinet to cabinet is not mindful eating. First off, you probably are bored, not hungry, and secondly, mindful eating involves sitting down and being intentional about every bite you take. Having an eating schedule where you put your food on a bowl or plate and actually sit down with other people to eat is a powerful way to ensure you are more mindful with your meals.
Quality Over Quantity.
Our bodies are machines that keep us going through even the most difficult of days, so feed it that way. Nourishing your body with high quality foods is a great way to feel fuller and more satisfied than stuffing your face with junk food. Less is more when you’re feeding your body with good ingredients.
Connect With Your Food.
While eating your meal, you should consider where your food comes from instead of thinking of it as an end product. This process of understanding the origins of every food on our plate helps connect us more deeply with the natural world around us. Take time to consider all of the people involved in the meal on your plate – from the person who prepared it, to the employee that stocked it on the shelves at the grocery store, all the way to those who planted and harvested the ingredients your meal is made from. Be mindful of the water, soil, and electricity that went into your creation as you sit down to eat. Practicing this habit will help you make better choices when it comes to sustainability and your health. Consider the whole planet, that’s a main part of mindful living.
Practicing gratitude in general is an amazing habit to have, but we’re mainly talking about food here. By appreciating your food, you see it as a privilege instead of a right. After connecting with your meal and considering what went into it, you should realize how lucky you are to get the opportunity to nourish your body with that food.
Clean up Your Self Talk.
Get rid of your negative self talk about food and replace it with positive affirmations. A few that we love are, “Today I eat for nourishment,” “I’m making compassionate choices towards myself,” and “I appreciate and give thanks for this food.” Ditch the negative view of food you used to have and think positively, you deserve to be treated nicely.
Mindful eating is a great habit to start practicing immediately. There are many different ways you can be mindful of what you put in your body, even in today’s busy world.We hope you’ve enjoyed this article and will start practicing some of what we discussed here. Keep up with us by following along with our blog and monthly newsletter.