Mindful eating is not a diet, nor a weight loss plan – there is no meal plan or a set of rules to follow. Mindful eating is a meditative practice that focuses on the way we eat our food, instead of what we choose to eat. It represents opening up your senses, clearing your mind from distractive thoughts and paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking. Over time, mindful eating might naturally lead to a change in your dietary choices, but it will undoubtedly change your relationship with food for the better. Here are some ways to introduce mindful and healthy eating:
In today’s fast-paced society, we have forgotten what it means to truly savor a meal and enjoy every bite. However, by slowing down and chewing steadily, you are more likely to notice when you are full and prevent yourself from eating excessive amounts of food. Simple ways of slowing down might just include following some of your grandmother’s manners, such as sitting down to eat, chewing each bite 25 times, putting your fork down in between bites, and all those other old table manners that might not actually be as pointless as they once seemed. Not only will you give your body a chance to signal you to eat the right amount, but by slowing down you will also allow yourself to feel more happy and satisfied once you’ve finished the meal.
Keep distractions at bay
Eating while distracted makes it harder to listen to your body’s natural cues and reactions to the food you eat. It may also cause you to forget how much food you’ve consumed, which can often lead to a feeling of dissatisfaction and possible overeating that consequently causes weight gain and even obesity. If you want to know if your eating habits have caused any unnecessary weight gain, using a BMI calculator you can calculate your body mass index and construct a new, healthier diet accordingly. But whatever your results may be, the best idea is to always remove any distractions, such as parting ways with your mobile phone or the TV while eating, or even intentionally eating in silence at the table, in order to give yourself the opportunity to be more engaged and present with your meal.
Open up your senses
In order to be able to fully appreciate your meal, you need to take a moment to open up all of your senses. Firstly, start with your eyes and pay close attention to the variations of the color and the shape of the food in front of you. Then, move on to your nose and slowly take in all of the wonderful smells of your beautiful meal. Once you finally begin eating, notice the full texture and the complexity of your food, as well as the sounds it makes, from the luscious soft textures to the crispy, crunchy aromas. Only by engaging all of your senses and focusing on the small details will you be able to truly appreciate the wonders of your meal, instead of simply eating it as a part of a mundane routine.
Listen to your body
We often tend to eat out of stress, boredom, sadness, or simply because it is a designated time for a meal, even if we are not actually hungry. If you truly want to know the distinction between hunger and non-hunger cues, instead of your mind, you have to listen to what your body is trying to tell you. Is your stomach growling, is your energy low or are you feeling a bit lightheaded? All of these signals are a sign of your body trying to tell you it needs nourishment – listen to it. True mindful eating represents actually listening to our body’s signals for hunger and responding to them appropriately. So, next time you feel like eating a meal, ask yourself if it’s your body signaling it’s hungry, or if it’s actually your emotions triggering a desire for comfort food.
You can’t become a mindful eater overnight – it requires practice, patience and determination, but it is completely and utterly worth the effort. Mindful eating will help you heal your relationship with food, while reducing episodes of overeating and creating a higher awareness of your body’s response to food.