Many of you may have heard the term Mindful Eating before but may not know what it is. Well, very simply put, Mindful Eating is an awareness and connection with food and what you are putting in your body. In today’s fast-paced society, we are significantly more likely to engage in mindLESS eating, which is usually what we are doing when we are eating in the car, in front of the TV, in a meeting, or simply in a hurry. The problem with MindLESS eating is that we lose our connection to our food and thus the enjoyment that comes with eating, nourishing our bodies, and satiating ourselves. When I ask people what they ate that day, they often have to think about it or can’t remember. This is because they are so disconnected from their eating. Ultimately when that happens, we get so disconnected from our food that we don’t feel fulfilled or nourished. As a result, we often end up eating more!
Mindful eating is a path back to enjoying eating and building a healthy relationship with food. Mindful eating allows us to appreciate our meals, enjoy the tastes, textures, and complexities of our food, and take time out to be grateful for the nourishment. This enjoyment and gratitude helps us take control and power away from food and cravings so that food because a healthy part of our lives instead of a harmful one. Starting developing your mindful eating efforts today by incorporating some of the strategies below:
1) Eliminate Distractions– Make meal time about food—and NOTHING ELSE! That means no TV, no phone, no tablet, no newspaper, no work- nothing. When you are eating, get rid of everything else so you can focus solely on your food. This allows you to be mentally present at mealtime and get the most out of your food, both physically and emotionally.
2) Slow it down– Meals should be eaten in 20 to 30 minutes, not 5 to 10. Take your time. Chew your food thoroughly. Put your fork down between bites. Take a 30 second break every few minutes. Drag it out and give yourself more time to enjoy. This will help you enjoy your meal more, feel truly nourished and satiated, and make it a lot harder to forget what you ate!
3) Think About Your Meal– Take some time to examine what you’re eating and use all of your senses- how does it smell? What does it look like? What textures do you feel on your tongue? What flavors are included? Is it sweet, salty, spicy, bitter? Take a few minutes to really think about all the complexities about what you are eating.
4) Check in Throughout Your Meal- One of these reasons we are often feeling incredibly full or incredibly hungry is that we usually fail to check in with ourselves to assess our hunger level. A great place to start this check in is while you are eating. Every 3 or 4 minutes during your meal, take a break and check in with yourself to assess how hungry or full you are. Let your check in help you determine whether to keep eating or to wrap it up for later.
5) Appreciate!– as cliché as this sounds, taking the time to appreciate the food you are about to eat or are eating, can go a long way in terms of helping you build a healthy relationship with food. We sometimes forget how fortunate we are and taking just a minute during your mealtime to appreciate what you have can influence not only your meal, but your entire outlook for the day!