Mindful eating is about using mindfulness to reach a state of full attention to your experiences, cravings and physical cues when eating. According to Healthline, mindful eating has has been shown to promote weight loss, reduce binge eating, and help you feel better.
What is Mindful Eating?
Fundamentally, mindful eating involves
- Eating Slowly and Without Distraction
- Listening to Physical Hunger Cues and Eating Only Until You’re Full
- Distinguishing Between True Hunger and Non-hunger Triggers For Eating
- Engaging Your Senses By Noticing Colors, Smells, Sounds, Textures, and Flavors
- Learning To Cope With Guilt and Anxiety About Food
- Eating To Maintain Overall Health and Well-Bring
- Noticing the Effects Food Has On Your Feelings and Figure
- Appreciating Your Food
- These things allow you to replace automatic thoughts and reactions with more conscious healthier responses.
Why Should You Try Mindful Eating
Today’s fast paced society tempts people with an abundance of food choices. On top of that distractions have shifted attention away from the actual act of eating, toward televisions, computers, and smartphones. Eating has become a mindless act, often done quickly. This can be problematic since it takes your brain up to 20 minutes to realize you’re full. If you eat too fast, the fullness signal may not arrive until you have already eaten too much. This is commonly known as binge eating. By eating mindfully, you restore your attention, slow down, making eating an intentional act instead of an automatic one.
How To Practice Mindful Eating
Harvard Health Publishing suggests following the steps below to start practicing mindful eating.
1. Begin with your shopping list. Consider the health value of every item you add to your list and stick to it to avoid impulse buying when you’re shopping. Fill most of your cart in the produce section and avoid the center aisles—which are heavy with processed foods—and the chips and candy at the check-out counter.
2. Come to the table with an appetite— but not when ravenously hungry. If you skip meals, you may be so eager to get anything in your stomach that your first priority is filling the void instead of enjoying your food.
3. Start with a small portion. It may be helpful to limit the size of your plate to nine inches or less.
4. Appreciate your food. Pause for a minute or two before you begin eating to contemplate everything and everyone it took to bring the meal to your table. Silently express your gratitude for the opportunity to enjoy delicious food and the companions you’re enjoying it with.
5. Bring all your senses to the meal. When you’re cooking, serving, and eating your food, be attentive to color, texture, aroma, and even the sounds different foods make as you prepare them. As you chew your food, try identifying all the ingredients, especially seasonings.
6. Take small bites. It’s easier to taste food completely when your mouth isn’t full. Put down your utensil between bites.
7. Chew thoroughly. Chew well until you can taste the essence of the food. (You may have to chew each mouthful 20 to 40 times, depending on the food.) You may be surprised at all the flavors that are released.
8. Eat slowly. If you follow the advice above, you won’t bolt your food down. Devote at least five minutes to mindful eating before you chat with your tablemates.