Do you eat mindfully? Mindful eating is a way of eating that helps you be more in control of your eating habits without feeling judgement or shame the way you sometimes do when “dieting”. It involves maintaining in-the-moment awareness of what you are consuming. Unlike a diet, mindful eating does not involve “rules of eating”. It is about observing what you are eating and then observing the experience of eating it.
There are many benefits to mindful eating. It can help you slow down your eating, support weight loss, help reduce binge eating, improve digestion, change your overall relationship with food, help you appreciate your food more and help you make better food choices overall. When you are mindful about what you are eating, you are paying close attention to what you are putting into your body and why. Because you are looking at why you are eating, you will begin to raise your awareness about when you are eating for emotional reasons, rather than because you are hungry. This is critical to successful, long-term weight loss.
So often we eat mindlessly. This occurs because we live in a fast-paced world where eating on the go, in front of screens, or without having enough time has become the norm for so many of us. When we eat like this, we don’t have an opportunity to focus on what we are eating and why. We don’t notice the size of our portions or even if we are truly liking what we are consuming. We also often beat ourselves up after we eat foods that we are trying to avoid. When we eat like this, we don’t allow ourselves to enjoy eating. Eating mindfully reduces the negative feelings you may be experiencing about food.
When eating mindfully, you eat with intention and awareness without judging or shaming yourself for what you are eating. You aren’t just quickly shoving food into your mouth without noticing until you feel overfull. You aren’t focused on something on a screen while you are taking bites of your food. Being mindful at the beginning of each meal can change you whole experience with food. It can make eating healthier and eating less feel effortless, or at least a lot easier.
10 Tips for practicing mindful eating.
Take a few deep breaths when you sit down to eat. This will slow down your system and give you some relief from any stress, anxiety, or other emotions you may be feeling. Often when we are feeling challenging emotions, we eat faster, and we eat more. This simple process of taking a few breaths can help you ease your emotions so that they are not driving how you are eating.
Examine your food with you senses. Notice what it looks like. Notice the colors. Notice the amount of food in front of you. Notice what it smells like. Notice how the smells of different items on your plate work together. Take time to enjoy what you see and what you smell. These two sensory experiences are part of the eating process and should not be ignored or rushed.
Consider how the food got to your plate. Think about where your food came from and who was involved in the process to get it to you. From where it originated, who was involved in the packaging, transportation, getting it on the shelves and then preparing it. Even if it is food that is fresh out of the ground, there were individuals involved in planting, caring for, and harvesting it. Take a moment to appreciate all of the work that went into getting your food to you.
Be grateful. Be grateful that you have this food in front of you to eat. Especially if it is healthy food. So many people don’t get to choose what they are eating and don’t have healthy food accessible to them. Be grateful that you have been given the opportunity to have the meal that you have.
Take note of how hungry you are. Notice if your stomach feels really empty or just a little hungry. Tuning into your physical body before you eat will help you assess how much food you should be consuming. It will also help you assess again, if you are eating because you are hungry or for some other reason.
Think about the size of your stomach. Your stomach is roughly the size of your closed fist. Compare that to what is on your plate and identify if you have the right amount of food to fill you up but not too much that it will overtax your stomach. Make adjustments if you think you need to.
Notice the smell, taste, and texture. When you are eating, notice the smell of the food as you bring it up to your mouth. Notice how it tastes and what the texture is like. Chew slowly and thoroughly so that you are able to really appreciate what you are consuming. Slowing down the speed at which you eat will be important if you are looking to lose weight. Eating mindfully will automatically give you this result.
Take small bites of food. You are better able to appreciate the taste of your food when your mouth is not completely full. Also consider putting down your fork or spoon between each bite so that you are focused on tasting the food that you just consumed rather than getting the next bit onto your fork or spoon.
Observe yourself. Observe yourself as you are eating. Notice and appreciate your company if you are eating with others. Observe if you are eating too fast and adjust if needed. Notice if your mind wanders away to something other than your meal and bring your attention back to your meal. Notice if you start to feel full.
Notice your emotions. If you are feeling full and continuing to eat, consider why. You are likely trying to avoid feeling an emotion. Instead of trying to mask your emotions by eating, allow yourself to feel it and ask yourself what you are thinking that is causing you to feel that way. Once you identify the thought that is causing the emotion, ask yourself if there is a different / better thought you could be thinking that would result in you feeling better.
Mindful eating does require some intention, especially if you have not practiced mindfulness before, however, it is so powering in changing both eating habits and our relationship with food. If you beat yourself up, shame yourself, or judge yourself about how you eat, you deserve to feel differently and deserve the positive experience of eating mindfully.
Practicing mindfulness meditation for even just five minutes per day can make this process even easier. You can get my FREE 5 Minute Mindfulness Meditation Guide HERE.
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Karen Vincent Solutions