An unhealthy relationship with food includes feeling satisfied with meals and snacks, respecting cravings, and learning to recognize physical hunger/fullness cues. Furthermore, it involves tuning into emotional needs while finding sources of pleasure, comfort and nurture outside the realm of food alone.
Mindful eating may initially feel daunting, but with practice it will become easier. Here are some helpful tips to get you started:
1. Be present
Mindful eating involves being present during all of your meals and trying to cultivate mindful habits during these moments of consumption. Though this may be challenging for some who tend to consume their food on-the-go or without paying full attention, establishing these practices as ways of becoming more present eaters will only serve you in becoming mindful eaters in future.
Start by paying close attention to what you eat, taking note of its color, texture, and presentation. Doing this helps stimulate all five senses and prepares your body for digestion.
Next, carefully and slowly chew your food while enjoying each bite. Be aware of its flavors such as bitter, sweet, salty and umami while paying attention to how each texture feels in your mouth.
Give thanks for all the work and resources involved in producing your meal, and be grateful. Showing appreciation can help strengthen the bond between food and nourishment.
2. Focus on your food
Focusing on food can be part of mindful eating, but becoming obsessed with its quantity or quality could lead to unhealthy habits. Food should serve multiple functions; nourishment is only one. Food is also meant for pleasure, satisfaction and celebration!
Focusing on your meal requires all five senses – smell, sight, touch and taste. In order to enhance this experience and ensure it remains enjoyable throughout your mealtime experience, remove phones, TVs or laptops as possible from your surroundings and focus entirely on eating your food!
Reduce portion sizes by serving food off of a plate or bowl and carefully reading nutrition labels on snacks. Also be sure to transfer all foods from their packaging onto a plate or bowl prior to eating them – this will help ensure smaller portion sizes and prevent overeating.
3. Listen to your body
Attention is the cornerstone of mindful eating. To achieve it, it’s crucial that we pay attention to how food impacts our mood, energy levels and physical sensations (tummy rumblings, thirst quenches, nasal congestion or goosebumps).
Notice these sensations by slowing your eating pace, placing your fork down between bites, and chewing well. Take time to appreciate all of the textures and flavors in your meal for maximum enjoyment!
Note the distinction between physical hunger and emotional or environmental triggers that cause overeating, so as to eat when moderately hungry but stop when comfortably satisfied – this will allow for balanced nutrition without depriving yourself.
4. Take a break
Try dining alone from time to time; it will allow you to focus on enjoying your food without distractions.
Distracted eating can easily lead to overeating. One way to decrease distractions while you eat is to turn off or silence your phone and minimize notifications on other screened devices while eating.
Mindful eating involves listening to and responding to your body’s internal signals – including stomach growls and fullness signals. Furthermore, mindful eating requires appreciating its history – such as where its ingredients were grown or the care you put into cooking them. For starters, try one of these five-day mindful eating challenges for lasting change in your relationship with food!
5. Savor your food
Eating mindfully requires being fully present with your food and enjoying each bite fully, which may prove challenging if you’re used to snacking while reading, watching TV, working on the computer or daydreaming. With practice comes greater awareness of hunger and fullness cues; ultimately leading to healthier weight management and improved digestive health.
To truly savor your food, strive to minimize distractions, set down your fork between bites and chew each one at least 10 times before swallowing. Take time also to appreciate visually the colors, textures, aromas and resources used in growing and preparing it – this can help you better appreciate its nutritional value!