To be mindful means to be present in whatever it is you are doing at that moment. If you think about how we live today, doing things in a mindful state isn’t something we do very often. Ask yourself this question, “When was the last time I did something with undivided attention?” If you’re anything like me, you can’t remember when that was.
What Is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is taking the ideas of mindfulness and applying them to when you’re eating food. So now, ask yourself, “When was the last time I ate something without doing anything else at the same time?”. Most people won’t be able to recall when they last did this either.
Why is this important? By focusing more on how you’re eating rather than on what you’re eating, you can lose weight, control your cravings, cut down on bad eating habits, better control your blood sugar, reduce food portions, and more. Sounds good, right?
Be Mindful from the Moment You Step Foot into the Grocery Store
There’s an easy guideline for you to follow that will help you to be mindful while you’re doing your grocery shopping. Do most of your shopping around the perimeter of the store. You’ll start with the produce section, then the meat section, and usually the dairy section.
The aisles that are in the middle of grocery stores are full of a lot of highly processed foods that you don’t need.1) Your shopping list (which you should have made as shopping without one opens the door wider for impulse buys) needs to be full of natural, unprocessed foods.
Be Mindful of Your Hunger
Don’t allow yourself to get so hungry that you end up making poor food choices. If you sit down at the dinner table after not eating all day, you’re not very likely going to really think about what you’re putting on your plate. Your goal will be to just put something, anything, in your stomach. Be mindful of how hungry you are and don’t wait until you feel like you’re starving to eat.2)
Only Take Small Portions
The portions that many people eat are much larger than they need to be taking in. Large portions can lead to overeating, which in turn leads to weight gain and obesity.
You need to be mindful of how much food you’re serving yourself. Often, people will fill the plate they have because they feel like that is one helping. The truth is that if you fill a normal sized dinner plate, you’re very likely overeating. Use a smaller plate so that you can’t fit more food than what you should be eating.
Stop and Think
Before you start to eat, take a moment and think about what the food is, where it came from, and what you’ll get from it.3) Simply thinking about how much you appreciate that there is a meal in front of you can help you to stay in the moment while eating your food.
Think about the food on your plate in terms of how it looks, how it smells, what it feels like, and of course how it tastes.4) See if you can pick out the different flavors in the food to really stay connected with what you’re eating.
Slow Down and Take Small Bites
Smaller bites allow you to really taste everything that’s in the food. If you bite off huge chunks, typically a lot of the food in your mouth will get swallowed without much chewing. You want to take smaller bites and chew them at least 20 times so that you can taste all of the flavors in each part of your meal.5)
Really take the time and devote the attention to truly savor what you’re eating. Mindful eating will help you appreciate more of your food and on a whole different level.
The Benefits of Mindful Eating
Let’s change our focus from how to practice mindful eating to what it can do for you. The benefits can affect all aspects of your well-being, from physical to mental and to emotional. Let’s look at how:
Stress and anxiety
Being mindful when you eat will help you to see the reasons that you eat more clearly. Many people eat because they’re stressed or anxious. Mindful eating makes you think about how the food is making you feel.6) You’ll have to consider why you’re eating and confront that. It can help you learn to cope with the things that cause you stress and anxiety.
Control of your emotions
Similarly to how you have to confront your stress and anxiety when you practice mindful eating, it works that way for eating during periods where you’re in an elevated state of emotion also.
Reduce bad eating behaviors (overeating, binge eating, etc.)
Mindful eating means that you’re more aware of what you’re eating and how much you’re eating. You’ll eat slowly and be more conscious of the flavors in your food and what it does for your body. This has been connected to helping to change dangerous eating habits.
Everything about mindful eating helps you with discipline. You’ll gain much more control over the food you eat, rather than being controlled by the food. You’ll be able to develop much healthier routines for when you eat, and even for when you shop for your groceries.
Promotes healthy food portions
Mindful eating makes you more focused on how you’re eating and that includes how much you’re eating. You’ll think more about how much of something is on your plate. You’ll also think more about how full you feel as you’re eating.
It’s Nothing New
Mindfulness and mindful eating isn’t something that’s new to the world. It’s been around for centuries. Mindful eating has just only recently made it to the forefront of different kinds of media outlets and is becoming a really popular concept.
You don’t have to choose some extreme diet to improve your well-being. If you just start eating more mindfully, you’ll find that you’re healthier on all levels and enjoying the food you eat like never before.