It seems like we hear a lot about mindfulness these days - living in the present, the benefits of cultivating a mindfulness meditation practice - but if you're anything like us, you'll be excited to hear that mindfulness can be extended to our favorite activity: eating!
Mindful eating brings the same concepts of mindfulness, such as noticing small details and focusing on the current moment, to mealtime habits. In our current culture of eating at our desks, watching TV while we munch, and checking phones during meals, mindful eating can actually be challenging at first. Focusing on mindful eating can help you listen to your body's hunger cues, avoid overeating or eating too fast, and overall foster a healthier relationship with what we eat.
Where to Start
Mindful eating truly requires nothing except a new mindset around the way you eat. Here are a few tips:
- Don't multitask your meals. That means no computers, phones, TV, or other distractions (though eating with others is highly encouraged)!
- Eat slowly and take breaks every few bites. Chew thoroughly. Set down your utensils and take a few breaths or a sip of water. It takes 20 minutes for your belly to signal to your brain that you're full - give it a chance to send the message!
- Ask yourself why you are eating. Are you feeling hunger signals or is it an emotional response or simply a reaction to seeing food?
- Notice how you feel about your food. Take time to appreciate and savor the taste, texture, and experience of eating. Express gratitude for the meal in front of you.
- Notice how different foods make you feel physically and emotionally.Focus on eating nutrient-dense foods that make you feel good physically, rather than just emotionally comforting foods.
- Eat only until you're full, and listen to your body's hunger and fullness cues. Many of us grew up hearing "You have to finish what's on your plate," but learn to be comfortable setting some aside for later when you're feeling satisfied.
You can start off by practicing mindfulness at one meal per day or focusing on one aspect of it at a time. Maybe you eliminate meals in front of the TV or commit to sitting down to a proper lunch even on busy work days. However you incorporate mindful eating, it's a practical way to connect to your food and body and develop healthier eating habits!