Start Eating Mindfully In 5 Easy Steps
Do you find yourself eating on the run? Or do you tend to multitask while you eat? So many of us lead busy lives, which means that taking time out of our day to sit and enjoy a meal isn’t always a huge priority.
Before you know it, unhealthy eating habits can set in. Incorporating mindfulness into a busy routine can bring many benefits — even in how you eat every meal!
Eating mindfully is a great habit to learn to prevent these unhealthy eating patterns becoming a daily routine, this practice can also help to develop a healthy relationship with food.
What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating is a set of strategies that can help you to eat with ‘intention and attention’ — that is to really focus on what you are eating. When you eat mindfully, you become aware of how food looks, smells and tastes.
Eating mindfully may involve paying attention to why you feel like eating (this could be out of hunger or boredom), what you are eating, and how you feel after eating it.
You might already know about the benefits of mindfulness — eating mindfully can form part of your overall mindfulness practice.
Benefits of learning to eat mindfully
There are a number of advantages to mindful eating. When you consciously focus on how you eat, it can help you to find enjoyment in eating, among other great benefits.
When you eat mindfully, you will:
- Learning to listen to your body and identify how food makes you feel.
- Eating mindfully will encourage you to really taste the food you are eating — so you may find new flavours you enjoy!
- Learning to identify when you start to feel full which will reduce the chance of overeating and assist with portion control.
- Eating mindfully will encourage you to chew your food thoroughly, which can be helpful for the digestive process.
- Mindful eating may help your mindset while eating which can reduce emotional eating.
Mindful eating is not a ‘fad’ or a ‘diet’. It is about developing a healthy attitude towards eating, trying to connect with the food you eat, and how it affects your body and your wellbeing.
How to eat mindfully
Mindful eating can help you to become more aware of your senses and to savour the food you are eating.
Keep in mind that while these tips can get you started, there is no right or wrong way to eat mindfully!
1. Eat when you are hungry
Some days you may be starving and want to eat early because you had a tough workout. While other days, you might wake up late and decide to push your meals back to later in the day.
Pay attention to your body and the signs it gives you when you are genuinely hungry. You will learn to identify the way your body signals it is hungry — meaning you can become less likely to eat out of boredom.
2. Have an eating routine
Don’t worry if you struggle to keep a regular meal time because of shift work or family commitments. This step is less about the time of day you eat and more about how and where you eat! Removing yourself from distractions and focusing on what you are eating is a big part of being mindful.
For example, if you tend to eat while watching TV, try moving to a table away from the living room. You will be more likely to enjoy your food and find it more satisfying when you are focused on it.
Set aside time for meals where possible and try to eat in a relaxed environment — somewhere you can shut off, or at least limit, distractions. Doing this will allow you to focus on the meal in front of you.
3. Eat slowly and pay attention to your senses
Eating mindfully means you’re engaging your senses! Pay attention to how your food looks and smells. As you take a bite, pay attention to the texture of the food and think about how it tastes.
Try to savour the taste of the food — you might discover some new flavours you enjoy, which can open up many new possibilities for other meals too!
4. Put your utensils down
Next time you eat, try to put your utensils down between mouthfuls. You are more likely to chew your food thoroughly, which allows for better digestion, and this will give you time to assess whether you are becoming full.
5. Enjoy your meal!
The most important factor to remember about mindful eating is that you should be present when you eat. Don’t feel like you have to follow every step in this list every time you sit down to eat. You might like to focus on one area at a time.
If you want to learn to eat mindfully and improve your healthy eating habits — try not to think of your food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. While eating healthily is important for energy, growth and overall well being — having a good relationship with food is even more important. If you restrict the foods you love or tell yourself that particular foods are ‘off-limits’, it can take the enjoyment away from eating.
Practice eating mindfully
When you first try to eat mindfully, you may find it a little bit difficult. This is normal, as changing your behaviour and eating habits takes time! Don’t try to be perfect, simply find a way to eat mindfully that works for you.
Pick a couple of healthy recipes that offer colour, flavour and texture — like this Shrimp Fajita recipe. This can make it easier to really pay attention to what you are eating.
Once you get into the habit of mindful eating, you will notice how enjoyable it is.
Do you have any tips on how to eat mindfully? Share these tips in the comments below!
* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.