Eating is such a significant part of our daily lives, yet it’s so easy to get disconnected from it. One moment our plates are full, and the next moment, they’re empty and we’ve hardly tasted or enjoyed one bite.
Practicing mindful eating can bring us awareness of our own actions, thoughts, feelings and motivations, plus insight into the roots of health and contentment. So what is mindful eating and how can we achieve it?
Below we explore what it means to eat more mindfully and steps you can take to help focus on your food.
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is having awareness of physical and psychological sensations associated with eating, which includes:
- Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities available through food preparation and eating by respecting your own inner wisdom.
- Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor and taste.
- Learning to be aware of physical hunger and fullness cues to guide your decisions to begin eating and to stop eating.
- Acknowledging responses to food without judgment – Someone who eats mindfully acknowledges that there is no right or wrong way to eat, but varying degrees of awareness surrounding the experience of food.
Tips to Eat More Mindfully
- Chew 25 times: There is reliable scientific data that extra chewing results in less overall food intake.
- Feed yourself with your non-dominant hand: Making things more difficult is a great way to force yourself to pay attention to what you’re doing. Start slow by just doing it for breakfast and snacks.
- Put your fork down between each bite: This is an excellent complement to the chewing habit. Setting your fork down forces you to focus on chewing your food rather than letting yourself mindlessly pick at your plate for your next bite.
- Tune in: Take your first bite with your eyes closed and tune into the sound of the bite and swallowing. This will help you to slow down as you consume your meals.
- Try to identify every ingredient in your meal: This is a great way to focus on the present moment.
- Put your food on a plate: This may sound obvious, but eating out of a bag is not practicing mindful eating. Get in the habit of placing small snacks on a plate before you eat them. This forces you to acknowledge exactly what and how much you will be eating.
- Sit at a table: This formalizes a dining experience, helping you draw attention to your food and eating habits.
- Eat in silence: Put away your phone and turn off the TV. Eat distraction free so that you can focus on the taste and smells of your meal.
By CHI Saint Joseph Health – Weight Loss & Surgery Associates