Mindful eating can help you enjoy a meal and the act of eating. Some studies show that mindfulness-based practices help improve eating habits, such as binge-eating, stress-eating, or eating for comfort. Mindful eating can even aid with weight loss. Mindfulness is the practice of becoming and staying, fully present in this exact moment. Mindfulness allows us to break these habitual patterns, to make a more present and attentive life.
With the leftover Halloween candy, Thanksgiving meals coming up, and endless holiday parties, it is the perfect time to practice mindful eating. If you want to avoid overeating, gaining extra weight, or maintaining your blood sugar, mindfulness can help you. We have compiled some tips for mindful eating.
Sit Down To EatSome people think it is obvious to sit down and eat, while for others this might be a challenge. Since mindfulness is about being fully present in our lives, it is important to do one thing at a time. So for your next meal, sit down and relax- be present to the meal you are about to eat.
Eat SlowerDoing something slowly is not being mindful, but it might be necessary for the beginning of your mindful practice to get the hang of it. The reason it is important to slow down when you are eating is to really mentally focus on what you are doing. The quicker we move, the harder it is for our mind to keep up with our body, so slowing it down a bit is an increased opportunity for practicing mindfulness.
Go Screen-FreeThis might be a challenge for a lot of people, but turning off your T.V., closing your laptop, and not looking at your phone during your meal helps you eat more mindfully. We are trying to give our complete, undivided attention to the present moment so getting away from anything that could potentially distract you from your meal helps put an end to mindless and over-eating.
Chew 30 TimesChewing each bite of food at least 30 times helps promote mindfulness while being kinder to our body. The way most of us eat, chewing just a few times and swallowing large pieces, takes away from really focusing on the food we are consuming. Chewing your food 30 times is difficult at first, but with practice, it becomes easier.
Put Your Fork Down Between Each BitePutting down your fork between each bite is a great way to assist the practice of chewing each bite 30 times. By setting your fork down, you are forced to focus on chewing your food rather than allowing yourself to mindlessly pick at your food for your next bite. This practice also allows you to slow down and really taste your food, instead of eating it as quickly as possible.
Think MindfullyNegative, critical thoughts like “I don’t deserve to eat this because I’m fat.” or “I’m so stupid, why would I do that!” need to be observed mindfully. These negative thoughts can trigger overeating or stop you from feeding your hunger- both damaging your body. Just because you have these thoughts doesn’t mean that you need to act on them. It is important to remember that a thought is just a thought, not a fact.
Give ThanksWhether or not you grew up in families, or knew someone who gave thanks or prayed before their meals, you can take a cue from that and practice gratitude before your meal. It is as simple as taking a moment to really appreciate the meal in front of you. Not only is the practice of giving thanks for your meal good for your well-being, it helps you focus your attention on the meal in front of you.
Be A Food CriticInstead of vacuuming your food off your plate, be aware of the presentation, every flavor, and how satisfying each bite is. A good way to practice this is by eating a raisin like it is the first time you have ever had one. Make eating a full sensory experience, notice the texture, smell, and thoughts that come up when you are eating.
Eat In Silence
Along with turning off any potential distractions, eating in silence promotes mindful eating. Anything that you experience outside of the taste and smell of your food distracts you, making mindful eating more difficult. Eating in silence may be difficult, an effective strategy can be to designate the first 5 minutes of your meal for a quiet, mindful practice.
One of the greatest benefits of mindful eating is that you never have to ‘diet’. Eating mindfully teaches you to trust your body. Overall, when you eat mindfully, you are present. This makes you live in the moment which lessens your stress and benefits your overall well-being. Practicing mindful eating helps you to live in the present in other areas of your life. If the tips above seem overwhelming, start your practice of mindful eating by giving your food your full undivided attention by paying attention to it’s smell, temperature, flavors, and texture, take your time eating, while you chew pay attention to the physical process of eating, and get rid of any distractions that take away from your practice. Most importantly, don’t turn mindful eating into a chore, instead, focus on the joy that it brings you.