We live in a world of haste and instant access, and eating is no exception. Whether we are texting, driving or watching TV, we tend to multi-task while eating or snacking. Mindless eating traps are plentiful and food is around every corner. In fact, it is estimated that we make about 200 decisions a day about the foods we eat and drink. It might be time to hit the pause button and reap the benefits of eating mindfully.
We know that mindfulness is being in the present moment which can result in a calmer mind and a healthier lifestyle. Being mindful helps us to lead more fulfilled lives. Mindful eating may even aid in weight management or controlling blood sugar. Another philosophy of mindfulness is perceiving emotions and expressions without judgment. Sounds worth it, right? But, how does this translate into eating?
Translating mindless eating habits into mindful eating habits:
|Mindless eating||Mindful eating||What to consider|
|Eating past full, ignoring your body’s signals||Reflect and listen to your body, stop eating when you are full. It takes around 20 minutes for your body to catch up with your brain to be able to hear the full signals.||What are ways you can slow down your eating habits?
Tip: Put down your fork after each bite and chew thoroughly.
|Eating quickly without actually tasting your food||Eating to experience pleasure. Meals can be a sensory experience.||When was the last time you enjoyed the flavor and texture of your food?
Tip: Practice paying attention to the feel and taste sensation of your food.
|Eating when emotions tell you to (you are sad, bored, stressed out, etc.)||Eating when your body tells you to (stomach growls, low energy)||What are your body’s hunger signals? What are your emotional triggers?
Tip: Touch where you feel hunger. Is it your mouth, throat, chest or stomach? These can be clues helping you to distinguish between emotional or physical hunger.
|Eating alone or at random times/places||Eating with others at set times/places. Develop healthy eating environments.||Where and when are you eating most of your meals?
Tip: Sit down at a table or limit eating to the kitchen or dining room.
|Eating and multitasking||When eating, just eat. Eating with distractions makes it harder to listen to our body’s signals of fullness.||What are your biggest distractions while eating?
Tip: Try eating your next meal with no TV, computer or phone. Just enjoy the meal and eat with all your senses.
|Considering a meal as an end product||Consider the life cycle of your food.||When was the last time you felt connected to your food?
Tip: Give gratitude and take a moment to acknowledge the people, animals and elements involved in creating the food in front of you.
Adapted from: Christopher Willard, PsyD, www.mindful.org
Learning to eat mindfully involves changing habits. Learning any new skill can be tough and usually requires practice and time. Remember, be kind to yourself, there is no being perfect with mindful eating.
“Familiar territory always feels comfortable until you find greater comfort elsewhere.” D. Altman
In good health,
- Christopher Willard, PsyD – 6 Ways to Practice Mindful Eating, https://www.mindful.org/6-ways-practice-mindful-eating/ 13, 2016
- Altman, D., 1999, Art of the Inner Meal, Harper, San Francisco