Mindful Eating - It is not just WHAT you eat, it is HOW you eat!
The act of mindful eating is all about awareness. Once we bring our attention to the entire experience of eating, we stop getting lost in our thoughts and become less caught up in any complicated emotions we might have around food. When you are learning to eat mindfully, you’ll want to use a journal to jot down observations such as your hunger and fullness with meals. This will allow you to get to know your body and become re-acquainted with the act of eating. Remember this is just an observational exercise, do not judge yourself! Here are some tips for eating mindfully:
1. If you think you are hungry, eat more.
Give yourself permission to eat and keep yourself biologically fed. If you are exercising hard one day then you will most likely feel the need to fuel your body more. If you did not use up too much energy, your body may need less then usual.
2. Increase non-food sources of nourishment.
Tune into the non-food areas of your life! Try exercise, meditation, reading, hobbies, these activities will help you be more in tune with yourself and therefore the act of eating.
3. Cultivate calm on non-food area places of your life.
For example, at work, while you have your coffee. When you practice being calm in non-food areas, it will spill over to feeling calmer when you eat.
4. Go to the grocery store weekly.
Make sure that your home is always stocked with healthy items. When we run out of healthy foods at home that’s where we get into trouble. Make sure you always have healthy meals and snacks available. If you cant get to a store there are numerous grocery store deliveries and meal programs available to you!
5. Put everything in a bowl or on a plate.
Do not eat foods right out of the box or package. It is important to place all of your food on a plate on in a bowl/glass so you can truly see the amount you are eating. We tend to eat way more if we are just eating right outside of the bag and most likely we are distracted.
6. Only eat sitting down.
If you sit while eating, you are more likely to consume fewer calories and digest your food properly then if you are standing up or walking around.
8. Pay attention to how food affects your body.
Take time to notice how you feel not just while you are eating, but after you eat. How long do you stay full? How is your energy level? Observe how you feel after eating different types of foods. Maybe you find that one type of snack causes an initial spike of energy, but is followed by a crash an hour later; while another snack gives you more consistent energy throughout the day.
Try to approach these observations with curiosity, not judgment. One food is not better than the other, they just may make you feel differently afterward. By putting the focus on how you are eating – instead of just what you’re eating – you will find yourself enjoying food more.
9. Make a meal last 20 minutes.
It’s easy to eat meals too quickly, especially when you’re busy. Eating breakfast on-the-go, grabbing lunch during a short break from work, or trying to finish dinner before your child’s bedtime are all common ways we speed through a meal without paying attention to hunger and fullness cues.
Research shows that eating slower results in significantly greater feelings of fullness and may even reduce calorie intake. Eating for at least 20 minutes allows the signals from your stomach to tell your brain that you are full. If you eat too quickly, you will not receive those signals and most likely continue to eat more