Eating mindfully is mindfulness applied to all things food, from food preparation to eating! (Smilingmind.com.au)
Mindful eating is about being present in the moment and fully aware of all senses including your hunger and satiety cues whilst emotionally and physically acknowledging your responses to food.
Below are a few strategies you can pick from (or use them all) to start eating mindfully, understand why you are eating and when to stop.
Environment, Physical, Emotional (Why are you eating?)
Next time you go to eat, stop, ask yourself why are you there?
s it only because you know your favourite packet of biscuits is in the cupboard? You are bored? You are at a party/restaurant with friends? You are about to sit down to your favourite show/watch a movie and its habit to eat something while you watch? You are around certain people and always have a beer. This is your environment, you may mindlesly eat only because you are in a certain situation and will do so even when you aren’t hungry. You do it out of habit, the environment you are in. Once you become mindful of this you can start saying, ‘I can have it but do I actually need it’, make a conscience decision to not consume calories you don’t need.
We eat for reasons other than hunger, as shown above, the environment we find ourselves in is one. Another is emotional eating. Many of us mindlessly eat food for comfort, stress relief, or to reward ourselves We don’t always eat just to satisfy physical hunger. Many of us also turn to food for comfort, stress relief, or to reward ourselves. And when this happens it is normally the junk food, high fat, high sugar foods we reach for. Ice Cream or chocolate because you are feeling down, beer or wine in celebration, pizza or chips because you are bored, drive-through on the way home from a stressful day at work. The unfortunat thing is is that it doesn’t work and often feels us feeling worse and the emotions remain plus you now feel guilty for over eating.
Finally physical eating, this is eating when you are actually hungry and stopping when you are full. Actually listening to your bodies hunger cues and eating accordingly. There are strategies to help you to understand these ques and we will touch on a few later in the article.
Now that you are aware of the different types of eating you can begin to become more mindful when faced with these situations. ‘I can have it but do I actually need it’, make a conscience decision on whether or not you actually want to consume the calories. But don’t restrict too much, life is made up of enjoying the small and sometime that involves food.
Take your time
Slow down your eating, consciously make sure you chew your food well (each bite up to 20 times), use smaller utensils, or put your fork down until you have finished chewing the previous bite.
Turn off the TV, switch of the phone or iPad. Being distracted by technology whilst eating can make you lose track of how much you are actually consuming.
If you’re sitting on the couch with a family size block or bag of anything, that’s not eating mindfully. Portion out snack foods into small bowls and plates and savour the foods. You then have to physically get up and go to the kitchen to refill your bowl. This might just be enough for you to realise that you have actually had enough.
Stop eating when you are full. It is ok to leave food on your plate if you are full. Many of us grew up being told to eat everything on our plate and so it has now become habit. We are now adults and we have a choice. So, if you are full, stop!
The benefits of mindful eating include, but are not limited to:
Less binge eating
Control food instead of it controlling you
Reduced food cravings
Pick one strategy and apply it, let us know how you go!