Do you find yourself rushing through your meals? Has eating become a way to quickly satiate hunger so that you can move on with your life and accomplish more important things on the to-do list?
The habit of rushing through meals has caused us to ignore the body's natural signals that tell us when we're full, leading to consumption of more calories and weight gain.
What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating is all about taking the time to slow down and enjoy food, savor every bite, check-in with how your body is feeling as you eat, and understand the cues of when you're still hungry or when you're full. It's about listening to your body and being more aware of your personal emotions and needs connected with the food that you eat. Here is how to get started.
Enjoy Mindful Eating: 8 Tips for Savoring Meals, and Feeling Better
Begin eating before you're starving.
We often end up shoveling food into our mouths when we start cooking long after the hunger signals begin. Try planning some meals ahead of time, and have some healthy items chopped and ready to go. Little by little work your way towards a more regular eating schedule so that you know when to expect to eat, and try to begin cooking well before you're ravenous.
Sit down to eat.
This is one of the simplest ways to begin the practice of mindful eating. Set a place at the table, and sit down to enjoy and appreciate your food. Consider how the French and other European cultures enjoy their meals. They're always surrounded by friends and loved ones, and always sitting down at a table together.
Set a stopwatch timer.
In order to understand how quickly you eat your meals, set the stopwatch function on your phone to see how long it actually takes you to consume your food from start to finish. It takes around 20-minutes from the moment you begin eating for your brain to send out a signal that you're full. This will help you have a better idea of how fast you're eating, and how much you need to slow down.
Take a moment before diving in.
Take a couple of big deep breaths, and breathe in the aroma of your food. Smelling your yummy meal cues up the glands in your mouth to start producing saliva - the first step in the digestive process. This gives your stomach and your gut the signal that food is coming soon and to get ready!
Set aside your smartphone and the newspaper, and turn off the TV. It's amazing how quickly we get into the habit of distracted eating, and it' important to redirect focus to pay attention to your meal and nothing else. This will help raise your awareness of flavors, heighten your experience, and gain a better understanding of when you're feeling full.
Turn on a guided meditation.
Headspace and other meditation apps have specific mindful-eating guides that can help you create a different mindset around your eating experience. If you need a little extra guidance around what mindful eating is and how to do it, this is a great place to start!
Set down your fork in between bites.
This is an easy trick to slow down your eating, and chew food more deliberately. Often if we're eating too fast we aren'r chewing enough, which means our stomachs and digestive systems are doing much more work than they need to. This can also lead to painful digestion and gas, both of which will ruin date night.
Check-in with your fullness.
Halfway through the meal, stop and ask yourself if you're still hungry. If you truly are, continue eating. If unsure whether or not you're full, stop there. We often keep eating before that signal is sent from the brain, causing us to consume much more food than we normally would.
The best way to become a more mindful eater is to take small steps, and recover when you falter. It will take some time and practice to teach yourself to slow down and eat thoughtfully, so be patient as you adjust.
Consider where you currently eat your meals first and go from there. Are you constantly standing and eating over the sink? Are you frequently eating fast meals in the car? Are you always watching TV during mealtimes? Answer these questions first and take steps to adjusting your mindfulness towards better eating habits, and a healthier future.
[Credit: Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD, Slow Down, You Eat Too Fast., WebMD.]
[Credit: 8 Steps to Mindful Eating.Harvard Health.]