What Is Mindful Eating?
Just like the name suggests, mindful eating is a way of eating your food in a particularly mindful manner i.e. in a way that involves being present and paying close attention to the food you are eating. It sounds a bit strange at first but once you understand why eating mindfully can be beneficial, it starts to make a lot more sense. Essentially, mindful eating allows you to control your eating habits and subsequently reduce weight by forcing you to have a heightened awareness of the foods you eat and the process of eating them.
What Are The Benefits of Mindful Eating?
The benefits of eating mindfully are multitudinous. Firstly, it helps with overcoming binge eating and overeating as it slows the eating process down. When we take our time over a meal and chew our food thoughtfully and carefully, we avoid stuffing our faces and eating far too much. Taking your time eating your food also means that you recognise when you’re full before you’ve overeaten. Because of these reasons, better portion control and weight loss are two of the possible effects that occur from eating mindfully.
Eating mindfully can help prevent emotional eating. In times of need and emotional upheaval, we often turn to food to comfort us and elevate us from our bad mood. We crave that happy trigger in our brain that goes off when we eat foods that are high in sugar, fats and carbs. Every now and again this is okay – we all need some comfort food from time to time. But when this becomes a frequent endeavour and we start to see food as the ultimate reward and problem solver it becomes a big issue. Eating mindfully mean that we ask ourselves ‘Why do I want to eat this? Am I hungry or am I just bored, unhappy, stressed etc.?’ Once we start to become self aware of our eating habits it is much easier to change them and realise when we are going overboard.
Another benefit of mindful eating is that you learn to really enjoy your food and savour each mouthful. How many people eat their meals in front of a laptop screen or a television? Lots of us. When we aren’t fully paying attention to our food, we don’t enjoy it as much as our mind is too busy with other things. Be fully present when eating your meals and you will find it a far more enriching experience. Focusing on our meals also decreases the risk of overeating which in turn can reduce weight.
How Can I Start Eating Mindfully?
Eating mindfully is really simple, you just need to get into the habit of it. Here are a few things you can try to get started.
1. Eat slowly and don’t rush your meals.
2. Chew each mouthful carefully, savour the different flavours on your palette.
3. Turn off all distractions such as your phone and TV, concentrate on your food and, if possible, eat in silence.
4. Ask yourself how you feel throughout the meal, what are your current emotions and how do you feel physically – tired, hungry, full, relaxed?
5. Take note of the different textures, flavours and aromas in the food you are eating.
6. Recognise when you’re full and stop eating at this point.
7. Keep a food journal, this allows you to track your food habits and also makes you think about your diet and the foods you are eating.
Mindful eating might not be for everyone, but go into with an open mind and it may just surprise you. Not only will it change your eating habits for the better, it will also improve your relationship with food and your ability to be controlled and self disciplined. It is a great opportunity to switch off, relax and take a break during the day.