What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is discussed often in conversations around health and nutrition. Put simply, it’s about being fully attentive to your food as you buy, prepare, serve and consume it.
Mindful eating is a very simple concept, but it doesn’t fit with the current fast-paced environment and erratic eating schedule that many of us follow today. However, many people are ditching diets, rules and structure to focus on being more present in their lifestyles and food choices. This requires taking a moment or a breath before reacting and thinking about what you plan to do before you do it.
Tips for Being More Present
Mindfulness takes time and work. You can’t rush through thoughts and behaviors. There is thought behind each action. Here are two examples of what mindful eating is NOT:
- Running through a fast food establishment for a quick burger because you’re short on time
- Grabbing snacks from the pantry while you sit down to watch T.V.
The following tips can help you slow down and be more attentive to your habits around food.
Take Your Time. While eating mindfully, really take time to enjoy your food. Instead of finishing your plate in just a few minutes, slow down. Stretch out your meal to last 25 minutes. After each forkful of food, take time to chew and savor the taste. After your first bite, put your fork down for a moment. Look at your surroundings.
Recognize Your Fullness Signals. Now that things have slowed down, it should be easier to pick up on fullness cues and avoid the temptation to finish everything on your plate. Your body takes time to send fullness signals to your brain. When you receive them, stop eating. This process can also help you recognize when you are hungry and need food. Slowing down to pay attention to these signals can help you break the mindless eating cycle.
Don’t Do Too Much. When you’re eating, focus on eating. Step away from your computer, T.V. and cell phone. Focus on the food you are eating and how it tastes. How is your body responding to this food?
When You Want to Snack, Ask Yourself Why. If you’re watching T.V. and you get the urge to grab popcorn, what is triggering this response? Many times, we reach for food out of habit or without even thinking. Instead, take a moment to decide if food is what you are really looking for. It might not be what your body needs.
Mindful eating takes time, focus and practice. The next time you eat, try a few of these tips and see if your habits start to change. Mindfulness is a lifestyle, so be patient and forgiving with yourself as you become more in-tune with your surroundings, thoughts and actions.
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