Do you know what mindful eating is? You guessed it, it’s somewhere along the lines of mindfulness but when it comes to food and eating. Today we’ll explain that and give you a quick guide to start eating more mindfully.
Mindful eating is a technique, a way of seeing food without judging it, and it helps you gain control over your eating habits. The biggest benefit of practicing it is that it increases your awareness of hunger and fullness. Therefore proven to increase satisfaction with food, help create healthier choices, promote weight loss, reduce binge eating, and have a better relationship with your body.
What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating is based on the concept of mindfulness, which means focusing on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting the moment, your feelings, thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations. Mindful eating is about using mindfulness to reach a state of full attention to food and its experience; cravings, hunger, and other physical cues are some examples.
The main bases of eating mindfully are:
- Eat slowly and without distraction (yes, we mean no phones or tv).
- Listen to your physical hunger cues and stop eating when full.
- Distinguish between true hunger and non-hunger triggers for eating.
- Eat only when your body tells you to eat (stomach growling, low energy, etc.).
- Engage your senses by noticing colors, smells, sounds, textures, and flavors.
- Eat foods that are nutritionally healthy and beneficial.
- Eat to maintain overall health and well-being.
- Notice the effects food has on your body and feelings.
- Appreciate and be grateful for the food on your plate.
Mindful eating 101: How to start
So if you want to start implementing this practice on a daily basis, we will give you 7 ways to practice mindful eating every day. These tips will make it easier for you to dive into the mindful space that you need.
1. Know your body’s signs of hunger
We often tend to get carried away by our emotions and eat when we’re told to. When mindfully eating, you may discover how to turn into your body first instead of your mind. That will help you stop eating when you get emotional signals, which may be different for each person.
You might start to wonder: how you can start paying more attention to your body before you listen to your mind? Well, listen to the signs of your hunger, for example:
2. Have a mindful kitchen
Sometimes bad food decisions start in our kitchen. Often, we eat mindlessly by wandering around looking through our kitchen cabinets, and eating whatever we find at random times and places. This prevents us from developing healthy environmental cues about what and how much we want to eat and creates new habits in our brains for new cues for eating that usually are not ideal.
You can argue that the ideal situation is to be eating sitting down at a table, placing food on a plate or bowl, not eating directly from the container, and using utensils to eat rather than our hands.
Having a mindful kitchen means organizing your kitchen and caring for the space. When your kitchen is clean and organized and everything has its own place, it encourages you to cook more and prepare healthier and more nourishing meals whilst also preventing food waste.
3. Plan your meals and groceries day
You don’t have to plan your food down to every bite you take, however, when you plan your meals ahead of time, you’re more likely to eat the amount that your body needs at the moment. This doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible for special occasions, of course! You can take a little bit of your Sunday afternoon, for example, to plan out the meals for the week, so when the time comes, you’ll already know what to eat and you’ll be making more conscious choices. Try to plan and schedule your snacks as well, so you don’t pick whatever you find at the moment.
Another important tip is to plan your grocery shopping day and to take your emotions that day into account. This will help you avoid foods your body doesn’t need but thinks it does when you’re feeling hungry, sad, or angry. Besides helping your pocket, it will help you stop buying impulsively and instead buy nutritious foods that will actually nourish you properly.
4. Slow down
One of the most important things to keep in mind is to slow down when you eat. Enjoy every bite of your food and take your time to chew it properly. This will help you to enjoy your food while also letting your body and mind communicate. Usually, the body sends its satiation signals about 20 minutes after the brain does, so this is why most times we unconsciously overeat when eating too fast or unfocused. However, if you slow down while eating, you can give your body a chance to connect with the brain and hear the signals to eat the needed amount.
Simple ways to slow down when eating are:
- sitting down when eating
- chewing every bite at least 30 times
- avoid distractions such as tv or phones
- setting your food down between bites and don’t take the spoon/fork again until you’ve swallowed down the previous bite
5. Change your mind about your food
Having a positive attitude about eating and a good relationship with food is crucial. If you have a negative attitude towards food or you feel deprived, that could lead to unhealthy eating patterns which are the opposite of mindful eating. Whenever you find yourself saying “I can’t have this” try to change it into a positive statement and say “I choose not to eat this because it doesn’t bring me any benefits now”.
You have to know that if you’re depriving yourself of some foods, and you’re not listening to your body’s cravings, it’ll be worse and can even lead to stress, and we all know how stress affects your gut health. So, listen to your body, honor your cravings, and don’t restrict: replace.
6. Connect more deeply with your food
Try to change your mindset about food. Instead of seeing food as an end product, try to ask yourself where food comes from. This will absolutely change your perspective and will help you make more conscious choices, not only for yourself but for the environment.
Also, before you eat a meal, take a moment to take a deep breath and feel grateful for the things you’re about to eat. This simple action will help you connect with your food on a deeper level, enjoy it more, and have no guilt feelings when eating.
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