Mindful eating is a practice that helps you reconnect a healthy relationship with food. It brings your attention and awareness to the meal you’re consuming in the present moment. This practice helps you enjoy your food better and can make you feel more satisfied.
Too often we don’t have time to be fully present when we have our meals. Usually, you may be watching something or eating in a hurry. This can lead to unhealthy habits such as overeating and mindless eating.
In this post, we talk about what it means to mindfully eat, how you can adapt this in your day-to-day life and what kind of benefits it can bring to your life.
What does mindful eating mean?
It’s the practice of consuming your food while being fully present. Using all your senses when you’re eating your food is the first step to eating mindfully. It’s also about acknowledging your responses to food whether you like it, dislike it or feel neutral about it without any judgement.
The purpose of mindfully eating is to help you focus your attention to the plate of food in front of you. It brings your awareness to the present moment assisting you to disconnect from any behaviours or habits that are harmful or unsatisfying to you.
Practical Mindful Eating Techniques
If you’ve decided to try mindful eating, be aware that it will take some time to adopt in your routine. We have some great practical suggestions on how to practice mindful eating below but start with one before trying another. Don’t fret if you can’t get the hang of it at first, practice makes perfect!
Here are some great ways to practice mindful eating:
- Ask yourself a few basic questions to start off with:
- Am I hungry?
- Am I thirsty?
- If so, what type of food/drink do I want?
Why this is helpful: This helps refocus the attention to yourself and getting you to tune in to your needs. If you ask yourself these questions you might find that you may not actually be hungry after all and this can combat overeating or snacking when unnecessary.
- Find a nice place to eat and take the time to arrange your food nicely on the plate. Avoid standing when consuming your meal.
Why this is helpful: Your meal time should be time out from your busy day. Savouring the food and seeing it look “attractive” in front of you will help you enjoy your meal.
- Eat slowly. Pay attention to the taste, texture, smell, and look of your food.
Why this is helpful: It encourages you to use your senses mindfully. This will help you eat your meal more mindfully. Notice when you bring your attention to consuming your food that it becomes much more enjoyable and tastier!
- Make a habit of placing your utensil or food down between mouthfuls.
Why this is helpful: Firstly, it helps you chew your food properly to aid digestion. Secondly, it gives you the time to enjoy your food for every bite you take.
- Make a conscious decision to stop eating just before you feel full. Wait 10-20 mins, then ask yourself if you’re hungry still.
Why this is helpful: This will help prevent potential overeating habits. It’s suggested that we eat until we’re satisfied not until we’re completely full.
- Be grateful for where your food came from. Think about the process it takes from the source to the plate in front of you.
Why this is helpful: Practicing gratitude helps us see the bigger picture to what we have rather than what we don’t have in our lives. Take the time to give thanks.
The Benefits Of Mindful Eating
When you start adopting mindful eating in your daily routine. You will begin to notice beneficial changes in the way you consume your meals. Studies have shown that it can help improve your overall health and general wellbeing.
There are many benefits of incorporating mindfulness in your existing routine. Mindfulness has been found to reduce psychological distresses like stress, eating disorders and depression. Rather than avoiding these uncomfortable feelings, it helps us become attentive to them so that we learn to manage them.
Using the techniques above will help us stay in tune with our eating habits to help improve our relationship with food. With that in mind, mindful eating helps us focus on how food helps us nourish our body rather than focusing on restricting calories, and measuring our food. It helps shift our attention to enjoying our food when we need to eat, rather than when we have to eat.
Mindful eating also helps you to identify any personal triggers for mindless eating. This can stem from emotions or social pressure that is leading you to eat without any awareness.
Other ways that mindful eating can help you include:
- Reducing the urge to binge eat or overeat
- Helping you enjoy your food more and be more in tune with your body
- Encouraging the use of your senses
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