What is Mindful Eating and why is it important?
Mindful eating means being fully attentive to your food as you buy, prepare, serve, and consume it. By truly paying attention to the food you eat, you will find you indulge in unhealthy or 'treat' foods less often. However, adopting this practice may take more than a few adjustments in the way you approach meals and snacks but by following this practice regularly, it is possible to change your mindset towards healthy eating.
Fundamentally, mindful eating involves:
eating slowly and without distraction
listening to physical hunger cues and eating only until you’re full
distinguishing between true hunger and non-hunger triggers for eating
eating to maintain overall health and well-being
noticing the effects food has on your body and mind
appreciating your food
These things allow you to replace automatic thoughts and reactions with more conscious, healthier responses. How many times have you eaten until you feel sick or eaten because your bored, anxious or stressed ? Mindful eating is a learned and practised technique that is essential for weight management.
Start by understanding when you are hungry. Learn to eat slowly and be aware of the tastes, flavours and experience of eating. Learn to stop when you are full.
Be mindful of the quality. Question how you feel before, during and after you eat and how this may affect future food choices to promote a healthier body and mind.
Eating is a joy and it should remain that way. However, making better choices on both the quality and volume of food we eat can help us perform better day to day both in a physical and mental capacity.
🍴 Mindless Eating vs Mindful Eating 🍴
Here's simple comparison between Mindless Eating and Mindful Eating. It pays to understand the difference.
Print this out and pin it up somewhere. It really does help to have a visual reminder!
Not sure where to start? Here are several practices that can help you get there:
1. Begin with your shopping list
Consider the health value of every item you add to your list and stick to it to avoid impulse buying when you're shopping. Fill most of your shopping trolley in the produce section and avoid the center aisles which are heavy with processed foods. Shopping online is even better! The temptations are not there in front of you, drawing you in!
2. Sit down for dinner with an appetite - but don't let yourself get ravenously hungry
If you skip meals, you may be so eager to get anything in your stomach that your first priority is filling the void instead of enjoying your food. Eat little and often during the day to keep hunger at a manageable level.
3. Start with a small portion
It may be helpful to limit the size of your plate to nine inches or less so you don't over consume. Portion sizes play a bit part in weight management and limiting overeating.
4. Appreciate your food
Pause for a minute or two before you begin eating to contemplate everything and everyone it took to bring the meal to your table. Silently express your gratitude for the opportunity to enjoy delicious food and the companions you're enjoying it with.
5. Bring all your senses to the meal
When you're cooking, serving, and eating your food, be attentive to colour, texture, smell and even the sounds different foods make as you prepare them. As you chew your food, try identifying all the ingredients, especially seasonings.
6. Take small bites
It's easier to taste food completely when your mouth isn't full. Put down your utensils between bites.
7. Chew thoroughly
Chew well until you can taste the essence of the food. (You may have to chew each mouthful 20 to 40 times, depending on the food.) You may be surprised at all the flavours that are released.
8. Eat slowly
If you follow the advice above, you won't bolt your food down. Devote at least five minutes to mindful eating before you chat with your tablemates.