On the journey to living a healthier lifestyle, you have most likely learned so much about what to eat and what not to. But how much do you know about mindful eating?
When one is told to eat mindfully, it means to be extra conscious about how you eat.
Not eating mindfully might find you still gaining weight even after cutting out all unhealthy foods. If all you consume is healthy food, you are still in danger of over-eating if you are not paying attention to your eating patterns.
The best way to eat right is to eat the right foods properly and in the right portion sizes. This is only done by eating mindfully.
Here are 10 tips for mindful eating:
Oftentimes you are already filling your cutlery with the next mouthful before you have finished the one in your mouth.
Mindful eating involves all the five senses. Try to put down your cutlery in between two to three bites and take your time to enjoy the food by chewing slowly. You’d be surprised at the various pleasures you’ve been skipping all the while you had been eating too fast. From the way it looks on your plate and how it smells, to the way it tastes and feels in your mouth.
Don’t Wait till You are Starving
One of the reasons mindful eating requires you paying attention to your hunger cues is because extremities can weaken your self-control.
Once you know your hunger cues, attend to them. It might be your stomach making noise, lightheadedness or even a low energy level.
It is hard to slow down and pay attention to your meal while you’re starving. In a bid to relieve those hunger pangs, you are bound to overeat.
Avoid Emotional Eating
More important than focusing on your food, it is important to understand why you decided to eat in the first place. We often eat based on how we feel in our minds, and not based on what we feel in our bodies.
To truly eat mindfully, you need to observe what pushes you to eat even when you’re not hungry. Even when you are not hungry, you might decide to eat to relieve stress, sadness, boredom or even loneliness.
Rather than eating when your mind tells you to, pay attention to your body for its hunger cues. Once you are sure of how your body responds to hunger, you will be able to tell when you want to eat just because you feel like it. This will help you understand your hunger cues more and avoid emotional eating.
Portion control is essential to mindful eating. Rather than eating right out of the packaging, measure your food to yourself in smaller plates or bowls. This reduces the temptation of piling on more. Do this for even snacks, fruits, and nuts.
When you’re eating out, it is usually harder to control how much you are served. On such occasions, decide how much food would be enough to satisfy your hunger. Then set aside the rest in a take-away pack to eat at home later.
Small Bites and Sips
When you eat your food in big bites, you end up eating too quickly.
To be able to truly enjoy your food, minimise your bites and chew slowly so you can focus at mealtimes. It also helps to stop between bites to take small sips of water. This slows down your eating and helps you with your fullness signals, so you don’t have to eat so much.
When something is done fast enough, it leaves room to accomplish more.
This can be a good thing in most cases, but not when it comes to eating. Finishing your meals fast may lead to overeating, but it also leads to you ignoring your hunger signs.
The body is not as quick as the brain to show signs that it has had enough. If you do not slow down and focus on your food, you will not be quick to realise when you are full.
Chewing a bite more than you normally would is a great practice to eating slow. This will also give you time to enjoy the flavours and textures of the food in your mouth before you swallow!
Eat without Distractions
Have you ever lost track of when you finished a meal because you ate it while watching TV or using your computer?
When you are distracted, you are less aware of what and how much you are eating. Put down your phone or tablet and even try to stay off excessive conversation.
Any experiences outside the ones that come from your meal can distract you and hinder you from eating mindfully. Take your time to relax and enjoy your food without interruption.
Say “No” to the Clean Plate Club
You probably grew up with the notion that it is proper manners to finish everything you were served on your plate.
Wasting food is not the best of practices, but it is no reason to overstuff yourself.
Have you considered portioning your food and taking the excess home with you as leftovers?
Explore with your Taste Buds
Eating mindfully is something that should be practiced as a lifestyle, but it will be hard to maintain long-term if you don’t find it interesting.
Find ways to make your meal experiences more appealing by trying out new recipes, foods and even cooking styles.
The more you explore the taste and textures of new foods, the more you would appreciate the goodness of eating mindfully.
Mindful eating helps you not only to appreciate the food you are eating. Instead of hurrying down the meal, take your time to reflect on who made the meal you are eating possible. As you enjoy the textures and flavours with every bite, appreciate the person who made the meal, or who paid for it (if you didn’t), how it was made or who even picked out the ingredients.
Gratitude gives your meal experience more meaning and purpose.
Mindful eating is a wonderful way to promote discipline and fight bad eating habits you may or may not have realized you had developed over the years, while learning to enjoy your food no matter how much is piled on your plate.
It is a simple practice that would bring about tremendous change to not only how you eat, but also your lifestyle in general.