Mindful eating is paying close attention to our food, intentionally, moment by moment, without bias. Mindful eating intends to promote an entire mental presence for the eating experience. Those who practice mindful eating will often lose weight but not because of intake restrictions. Weight loss is typically associated with mindful eating because the person ends up eating less by savoring what they are eating more and selecting foods that contribute to desired health benefits.
To be successful with mindful eating, it helps to start by gaining awareness before you start eating and then bringing attention to the physical act of eating. Here are some helpful tips for you to set yourself up for success.
Steps to take before eating:
You can use some tactics to help set the scene to practice mindful eating before you start. First, before anything else, take a moment to stop and check in with yourself to see why you want to eat. “Are you stressed, bored, angry, or sad? Are you lonely? Or are you truly physically hungry?” If you find that your desire to eat is not actually based on hunger, find something more appropriate to do to meet that desire. Maybe you can take a drink of water or find an activity to do that will help you cope with your emotions at the moment. Once you determine that you are hungry, next comes setting the stage for being successful with mindful eating.
Best mindful eating habits.
Steps to take while you are eating:
- Turn off the screens – avoid watching television or using computers, phones, and other technological devices that can distract you from eating mindfully.
- Serve the correct portion sizes – think ahead and prepare your food in appropriate portions so you aren’t tempted to overeat.
- Create a space where you can sit while you eat – sitting down while you eat can help you focus on what you are eating and decrease distractions. Better yet, try and make this space only for eating, nothing else.
- Take time to think about the process of how the food got to you – Think about questions like where is it from and how was this produced?
There are a few ways that you can practice eating mindfully. Ultimately, it would help if you found what works best for you, but the end goal is to slow down, focus only on eating, and savor the experience of consuming your food.
How to practice mindful eating.
- Use your seven senses to practice the art of mindful eating - While eating, ask yourself, “How does the food look, sound, smell, feel, and taste?” Going through these questions while eating will promote full awareness of the food.
- Eat intentionally and only eat – No multitasking! Reserve time to eat and be distraction-free so you can pay attention to your food and your body.
- Take a sip of water between bites to encourage yourself to slow down and truly experience the food.
- Savor each bite – set a goal for how many times you chew your food, or try and pick out a new flavor with each bite.
- After each bite, check in with your body about how you are feeling - Have you had enough? Do you need more? Is it time to stop eating? Then move on to the decision you have chosen.
It will take time and practice to get into the habit of eating mindfully, and that’s okay! It’s all about bringing self-awareness to how you approach food and eating. Practicing mindful eating can eventually help you build confidence and trust when deciding about food instead of following rules about what and when to eat.
By, Coach Mariah