When it comes to health and weight loss, we tend to think of what to eat and just how much we should be eating to meet a suitable caloric target.
And while selecting quality foods and sticking to appropriate portion and serving sizes is essential, we must not discount the questions regarding when, where, why, and how we eat.
What is Mindful Eating?
Being mindful is essentially a nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment. So in the context of food and nutrition, mindful eating is a nonjudgmental awareness of physical and emotional sensations while eating.
Mindful eating promotes the notion of "all foods fit," stripping down the stigma of "unhealthy" or "bad" foods and incorporating all foods within a balanced diet.
The practice supports individuals to intently focus on internal cues of hunger and satiety, as well as external motivators that drive behaviors to foods. Recognizing the smells, flavors, and textures of foods is also a strong foundation of mindful eating.
Along with strengthening relationships with food, the act of mindful eating is showing effectiveness in the treatment of disordered eating, including binge eating disorder, bulimia, and anorexia.
In addition to the mental clarity individuals have found when practicing mindful eating, the physical benefits have been nonetheless compelling. In fact, research has demonstrated its implementation can be applicable for weight loss and maintenance and diabetes management.
How to Mindfully Eat
First off, it is important to ditch the notion of “dieting.” Mindful eating is not promoted as a rigid weight loss plan, nor does it require food restrictions.
Individuals are encouraged to hone into the importance of what mindful eating truly stands for and continue developing and strengthening skills within the practice.
Tune into Internal Cues
Eating with intention can be accomplished by listening to hunger and satiety cues. Unlike cravings, pure hunger can cause low energy levels and that pesky stomach growl.
A cornerstone of mindful eating promotes listening to your body and stopping when full.
Be Aware of Thoughts and Emotions
Along with the physical feelings of hunger, be aware of thoughts and emotions you may be experiencing at meal time.
It is important to address whether or not you are eating based on emotions, also known as emotional eating, along with the surfaced thoughts while eating.
Recognize the External World
In addition to tuning into hunger and satiety cues, recognize how the external world influences food behaviors. One must also identify stimuli that may cause mindless eating, including snacking at your office desk or in front of the television.
Additionally, notice and welcome the surroundings, including the pleasant ambience and presence of the guests who may have joined you.
Appreciate Your Food
With food so widely available in the westernized world, it can sometimes be taken for granted. But along with appreciating food, value healthy food, the types that support the body and promotes a longer, happier life.
Sit down to your meal and appreciate its cultivation, preparation, and the nourishment it provides.
Eat Slowly and Chew Thoroughly
Rather than scarfing down your food and reaching for a second helping, start with a small portion and eat it slowly while chewing thoroughly.
Slowing down during meal times urges individuals to fully enjoy the meal, while also allowing enough time for the mind and body to sync and trigger the “I’m full” feeling.
Practice Mindful Meditation
The act of meditation encourages individuals to enter a mode of consciousness and live in the present moment.
Practicing mindful meditation can help you handle food cravings with awareness and intention.