Mindfulness is becoming a normal topic of conversation. And…having AWARENESS is pretty much the same thing. Creating awareness, for anything in your life is HUGE! It allows you to see more clearly and make better decisions for yourself in the moment, and for your future.
Mindful eating involves being fully present with all of your senses during the process of eating and encourages you to use inner cues, such as hunger and fullness to guide what you eat, and when you eat. The key foundation to mindful eating and bringing heightened awareness to your mealtime requires paying attention to how your food looks, tastes, smells and feels in and outside of your mouth. It also requires adopting a more flexible, nonjudgmental approach to eating (there is no “good” or “bad” thoughts). For me, that part it key.
The goal is to change your relationship with food, which can lead to healthier behaviors over all.
Imagine that there are no rules to eating well, and instead, basing your eating decisions on how you feel. Picture yourself sitting at your favorite restaurant, enjoying your food, one bite at a time, without distractions or negative thoughts. That is what Mindful Eating should look like…
Mindful eating happens before, during and after you eat.
It’s really about incorporating this mindful practice within your real life. And, it’s absolutely fine if you are at a family dinner, a date or a working lunch, and you aren’t able to practice the awareness you might be able to during a casual meal. Just like anything, this mindful eating has to work with you in your life. If you have to make modifications or take a different approach in a certain situation, then that’s what you do. Some days, I am extremely mindful, naturally. But there are others, where I seem to have no choice but to eat in front of my computer screen. If you find yourself in these situations too, the best thing to do is to try your best to eat slowly, chew your food thoroughly and continuously check in with your body.
Be flexible with mindful eating
You don’t want to be so rigid with your mindful eating approach that it becomes another set of rules or obsession. You want it to become a natural approach. When you deviate from rules, you can feel stressed or get upset with yourself, which isn’t good for your overall health and well-being. The key to mindful eating is to take it one meal at a time and do the best that you can do in each situation, aiming for your healthiest option, both physically and mentally.
Mindful Eating 101
Get this…it’s not only what you eat, BUT ALSO the way you eat!
- Before you eat, take a few deep breathes. Breathing deeply prepares the body to digest food better and gives you time to consider whether you are really hungry or not. In general, you want to eat when you are physically hungry, not just because food is there.
- If you’re hungry, think about what you are going to eat. Take a moment to think about where the food came from and whether it looks appealing…notice the color and smell of the food – bringing in that awareness.
- While you’re eating, take time to chew and enjoy your food. Using each of your senses that we mentioned at the beginning…seeing, tasting, smelling, feeling and hearing. Just like meditation, when your mind wanders – bring your attention back to the pleasure of eating. Be in the moment.
- As you eat, begin to notice signs that tell you you’re getting full. See what it feels like to stop eating when you’re no longer hungry, but not yet full.
- When you are finished eating, check in with how you feel.Are you energized or tired? Use that information to help guide you at your next meal.
- Be gentle and open to your mindful eating to help you bring back a positive relationship with food and your body. We spend so much time creating habits and patterns with our food that are not necessarily healthy for us (mentally or physically). You need to give yourself time to learn and grow in your mindful eating practice. Before you know it, the mindfulness is just another new, healthy habit!
No need to stress. There are so many ways to slowly bring on new health habits. When you are ready…let Mindful Eating be one of them!
In love and gratitude,