You may start to hear more talk about mindful eating, but do you know what it actually means to “eat mindfully?”
In today’s environment, making healthy choices about food has become increasingly difficult. This is partially because we often aren’t paying attention to what we’re eating, as many people eat while driving, watching TV, working, among other activities. We also typically give ourselves permission to indulge on occasions like holidays, birthdays, and vacation. Furthermore, even the way you were raised can affect how you eat. For example, being told to always finish what’s on your plate, or learning that sweets are rewards.
As you can see, there are many reasons why it can be easy to over-eat or not make the best choices for our bodies. That’s where mindful eating comes in, which is purposefully paying attention to our food in the moment and without judgement.
Here are ways you can practice mindful eating on your own:
Eat at a table
Even if you just want a snack, find a place to eat that isn’t the couch, your desk, or standing around in the kitchen.
Set a timer
Give yourself at least 20 minutes for a normal sized meal and 10 minutes for a snack to pace yourself, using up every minute to eat.
Eat in silence
Turn off the TV, put away the phone, and close the book before you sit down to eat. Use the silence to think about your meal, how it tastes, where it came from, and what had to be done to get it on to your plate.
Take small bites
Chew well, too. This practice slows you down and forces you to think about the food you’re eating.
Before opening the fridge or heading to your pantry ask yourself: Am I really hungry?
Switch up your utensils
Use smaller silverware, opt for the chopsticks that come with your food, or try eating with your non-dominant hand, which will most likely slow you down. It may be fun to switch things up a bit too!
Mindful eating is important because it helps us to slow down, pay attention to how our bodies feel, and appreciate the experience of eating.
1. Nelson 2017. Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While you Eat https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5556586/
2. Ruffault et al, 2017. The effect of mindful eating on weight loss and other health related behaviors in adults with overweight and obesity https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27658995