Unlike sleeping and breathing, eating requires some deliberate engagement on our part. We need to make decisions on what we gather, shop for and select. That's why mindful eating is so important - it allows us to make meaningful, clear choices about the food we're eating and why.
Mindful eating can be a challenging topic for a lot of people, mainly because they are unsure of exactly what mindful eating means. The core principles of mindful eating are simple:
● Bring awareness to nourishing properties of food through the process of food preparation and consumption
● Select enjoyable and nutritious foods
● Acknowledge food preferences non-judgmentally and give permission to enjoy fun foods
● Recognize and honor physical hunger and satiety cues
● Use wisdom to guide eating decisions
These five principles can help guide you in your mindful eating journey. What is one way you have incorporated these principles into your daily eating habits?
You can't talk about mindful eating without discussing mindLESS eating. Mindless eating involves looking at environmental cues and triggers around eating and recognizing that you are often eating for reasons other than desire, such as:
● eating on the run (in the car)
● eating while distracted (TV, phone, computer)
● eating from large plates and/or buffet style
● alcohol consumption and eating
The mindful eating concept involves making adjustments to avoid these triggers that may compel individuals to eat unhealthful foods, eat too much, or both.
Can you think of some strategies that would help avoid triggers above and overcome barriers to being a mindful eater?
Overcoming Mindless Eating
Here's how you overcome mindless eating using my favorite tools and adjustments.
With mindless eating, the opposite of the mindFUL eating we hope to achieve by focusing on our food and the way it makes us feel. All of the triggers for mindless eating are things we each encounter each day, but overcoming them can still be HARD.
Don't worry - I've got you :)
Here are my favorite tips for overcoming mindless eating using tools and adjustments you can make in daily life.
● Sit down when eating - try not to eat standing up or at the counter. Make a true effort to sit at the table while eating.
● Eat off of a plate [not out of bag] - this will help you recognize and enjoy the food you're eating by seeing what food is truly in front of you.
● Avoid electronics when eating - focus on your meal by putting away the cell phone or TV for a few minutes.
● Eat from smaller plates.
● Stock environment with healthier choices to help you reach for the foods you're excited to eat.
● Avoid food shopping when hungry
Which of these tips or adjustments are you going to try this week? Share below!
Here's a fun activity to try before your next meal.
Have you ever sat down to a meal and, by the time you were done, you basically forgot what you ate? You find yourself feeling overly full and uncomfortable, leaving you unsatisfied with the food you just ate.
This is a perfect example of mindless eating, and it can often happen when we don't 'check in' with ourselves and our hunger throughout the day.
Next time you get ready to eat, take a look at your hunger scale. The hunger scale is a rating from 0 to 10 of how hungry you truly are. 0 relates to the most hungry you could possibly be, while 10 is as full as you have ever been. Ideally, you want to fall into the 4-6 zone, without major swings one way or the other. If you find yourself feeling SO HUNGRY before each meal, maybe consider eating earlier or incorporating a snack. If you're not hungry at all before meals but still feel the need to eat, ask yourself why?
Use this as a fun activity in mindful eating and a way to 'check in' and learn your own personal hunger cues.
The majority of the population eats very quickly. Research shows that North Americans spend only eleven minutes eating lunch at a fast-food restaurant and eighteen minutes at a cafeteria in their workplace.
Why slow down?
We get satisfaction from chewing – that’s why we like foods with various textures. Chewing food not only enhances the experience of changing textures and flavors, but it helps us get more nutrients from what we eat. There are enzymes in saliva that begin to break down food even before we swallow our food.
Here are some ways to slow down when you're eating.
● Look at your food
● Smell it and notice the colors
● Chew 15-30 times before swallowing
● Notice texture
● Put down fork between bites
How do you slow down while you're eating?