Eating requires some conscious actions on our part, unlike breathing and sleeping. We need to make decisions every day when planning what we are going to eat. We have to make choices, shop, and select food items frequently. 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 quite challenging for some of us, mainly because we may not know exactly what mindful eating means.
5 Principles of Mindful Eating
- Mindful eating brings awareness to the nourishing properties of food through the process of food preparation and consumption.
- It helps you to select enjoyable and nutritious foods.
- It helps you to acknowledge food preferences without judgment and gives you permission to enjoy fun foods.
- It teaches you to recognize and honor your physical hunger and satiety cues.
- It uses wisdom to guide your day to day eating decisions.
Before we discuss mindful eating, we need to talk about mindLESS eating. Mindless eating looks at environmental cues and triggers around eating and recognizes that you are often eating for reasons other than desire, such as eating on the run, eating while distracted, eating from large plates, and drinking alcohol and eating.
By being mindful, you make modifications to avoid triggers that may compel you to eat unhealthy foods, eat too much, or both.
Overcoming Mindless Eating
Here are some tips for overcoming mindless eating using tools and modifications you can make in daily life.
- Sit down while eating. Try not to eat standing up or at the counter. Make a genuine effort to sit at the table while eating.
- Use a plate. Do not eat out of the bag. This will help you enjoy the food you’re eating by seeing what food is actually in front of you. You will not overeat this food since you know exactly what you are eating.
- Avoid being on electronics when eating. You want to focus on your meal so put away the cell phone or TV for a few minutes.
- Eat from smaller plates. This truly does help! If you have a large plate, you tend to fill it up! By eating on a smaller plate, you will automatically serve up smaller portions to fit the smaller plate!
- Stock your pantry and fridge with food items that are healthier choices to help you reach for the foods you’re excited to eat. Keep healthy items on the counter in a bowl. By keeping them in sight, you will be more inclined to reach for them! Definitely keep the less nutritious food items out of sight! Sure, you may purchase them for occasional enjoyment or for others in your household, but out of sight is out of mind!
- Avoid grocery shopping when you are hungry. This will eliminate any of the unneeded food purchases that will not help you with your health and weight loss goals.
The next time you get ready to eat, take a look at your hunger scale. This 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 including a snack. If you’re not hungry at all before meals but still feel the need to eat, ask yourself why?
The majority of us eat very quickly. Americans spend only eleven minutes eating lunch at a fast-food restaurant and eighteen minutes at a cafeteria in their workplace based on studies.
Why do you need to slow down? Satisfaction comes from chewing. This is 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. Enzymes in saliva begin to break down the food even before we swallow our food. You can slow down by looking at your food. Smell it and take in the colors of the food. Chew 15-30 times before you swallow it. Notice the texture. Is it smooth or crunchy? Put down your fork in between bites.
Be mindful of what you are eating and make healthier choices. By being aware of what you are putting in your body, you will soon have a healthier, more stylish body! Remember, you eat to nourish your body. Nourishment comes from nutrient-dense foods. Make sure you check out my other posts regarding veggies, fiber, and carbs!
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