5 Ways to Mindfully Eat
If you didn’t catch my last post on what mindful eating means, check it out here.
Today we will talk about HOW you can start to mindfully eat. At a glance, the steps sound so simple, but I will tell you that it takes time and practice to mindfully eat.
Steps to Mindful Eating:
- Slow down. Take the time to actually chew your food, sit at the table, TASTE your food, and enjoy your meal.
- Eat without distractions. This isn’t to say that you can’t enjoy good conversation while eating, but meal-time can be the perfect opportunity for you to put the screens down. It’s the perfect moments to allow yourself to just be in the moment, to recenter, and become aware of your body. We live in a crazy world, and are busy bees so a good starting place is to eat without distractions for one meal a day.
- Be aware of why you’re eating (physiological vs emotional/stress/boredom). This one is HUGE!!! Imagine, it’s 2pm and you’re reaching for that Snickers bar to wake you up. Instead, maybe a jaunt around the office would wake you enough to get you through the rest of the day. Imagine, it’s 9pm and you just sat down to watch your favorite TV show. You grabbed the bag of chips, popcorn, or the leftover brownies and ice cream, because it’s a habit and you made it through another work day and deserve it… Take a moment to ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?”, “What does my body actually need right now?” It’s okay to eat when you are not actually hungry, but start checking in with your body and notice when you eat for hunger vs comfort/stress/boredom/habit.
- Listen to your fullness and hunger cues. This one is much harder than you might think. It sounds so simple, right? Like, no big deal, “I can stop eating whenever I’m full”.. This shouldn’t be a surprise to many people, but America is facing an obesity epidemic. One of the BIGGEST contributors is that we are overeating as a nation, and we don’t know how to stop. When you learn to check in with your body and know when you’ve had enough, that is the moment that your life changes. You essentially take your power back to choose when and what to eat. Just as it’s so important to stop eating when you’re full, it’s so important to eat when you’re hungry!! When you are hungry, your body is trying to tell you that it needs food! Honor and trust that your body is smart and knows what it needs. Listening to your hunger and fullness cues isn’t meant to start you on a only-eat-until-you-are-full diet, but to empower you to be able to make more meaningful and mindful choices.
- Eat food you enjoy. Oh goodness. I do not like bananas, and I don’t like squash either. And you know what? I forced myself to eat these foods for a long time, because they were healthy and nutritious. But ugh! I just don’t like the taste. Why should I force myself to eat things that I don’t like????? This life is too short to waste time eating foods that aren’t enjoyable to you. The satisfaction that eating brings is a huge component of meal-time. If I eat a meal and am satisfied, do you know what happens? I feel that I am physically full, and since the meal was satisfying, I don’t need to scrounge around the kitchen for more food all because I ate yummy-tasting food the first go-around!
There is much more that can be said for each of these points (blog posts to come), but this is a good summary page of how to start mindfully eating. I want to say again that mindful eating is NOT a diet. It is a tool to use to learn to re-trust your body and take your power back. There will be days that you decide you want that carrot cake even though your dinner was filling and satisfying- and that’s OKAY!! Mindful eating is meant to bring you more awareness surrounding meals; it is not meant to make you feel guilty or ashamed. Mindful eating takes time and practice. You’ve been eating a certain way for a long time! You’ve built certain habits, and it will take time to break those habits. Give yourself permission to mess up without judgement and keep on mindfully eating.