Mindful eating is a practice that helps you gain control over your eating habits. Learning this practice can help promote weight loss, reduce binge eating, maintain weight, and help you build a healthy relationship with food.
What is Mindful Eating?
So, what exactly is mindful eating? To start, it’s best to understand what “mindfulness” means. Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in every moment; it’s purposeful awareness and attention. It’s about recognizing emotions and physical sensations, tuning in to tune out. When we apply mindfulness to eating, it becomes more about how and why we eat and less about what we eat. The goal is to move away from internal thoughts about food, what good foods and bad foods are, and shift into an appreciation for food, eating balanced and allowing space for food freedom within moderation. Mindful eating is an important practice for living a healthy lifestyle. If you are aware of why and how you are eating, you are more likely to make healthier choices and have a positive relationship with food.
How to Practice Mindful Eating
Focus on food feelings
Mindful eating involves you focusing on the food you are eating in the present moment. Challenge yourself to tune into your emotions and your senses. With each bite, ask yourself what you smell, what you taste, what the texture of the food is, and what you see visually. Check in with your emotional state. How do you feel while eating this meal? Recognizing your emotional state and physical senses helps keep you in the moment and bring awareness to why you are eating, helping you understand feelings of satiety and hunger. Knowing when your body is truly hungry or when to stop eating will give you control over your responses to food instead of acting on impulse. Food journaling is a great tool to use to start this practice. Next time you journal, be sure to record your emotions and try to describe the meal you are having based on the five senses.
Eat without distractions
An important practice of mindful eating is to eat without any distractions. Think about where your current meals take place. Are you eating on the run, inhaling your food at your desk while working, or eating in front of the TV watching your favorite show? You remember the first bite, but suddenly within minutes, your food is gone because you were so distracted with what was in front of you that you don’t even remember eating. While this is true for many of us, it’s an unhealthy habit we should all break. When you have other things going on while eating, you’re more likely to overeat or become hungrier again sooner because you’re not allowing your body to register feelings of fullness. Meal time should be enjoyable and something that you prioritize. The next time you eat, try to recreate that “first bite” sensation in every bite. Think about slowing down, turning off distractions, and focusing on your meal to make it an experience.
Being grateful for all food is an important practice for mindful eating and for building a positive relationship with food. Today, it’s easy to take food for granted due to how abundant and convenient food has become. However, taking the time to give thanks for your meal allows you to experience the meal fully and gain more satisfaction from each mouthful, pulling you into the present moment and finding a new appreciation for the work that went into the preparation, whether you bought it from the store or farmed it yourself.
Expressing gratitude for food can also strengthen your relationship with food. It can help you create positive feelings about what you are eating, even if it’s your “treat” meal. Letting go of guilt around food will break the cycle of binge eating, leading you to enjoy a balanced and healthy lifestyle that includes everything in moderation. To practice gratitude towards food, try reciting a prayer or mantra or pat yourself on the back, thanking yourself for the beautiful meal you’ve cooked.
Practicing mindfulness with food creates a positive experience and memory around food. Eating food is not just about being healthy:
- Food is an expression of love.
- Food is celebratory and brings people together.
- Food is part of traditional cultural values.
When you take a moment to appreciate and fully engage in enjoying your food, you become more in tune with your body. The more in tune you are with yourself, the more likely you will make healthier choices that support your goals and listen to body cues that let you know when you are full or hungry. In addition, by eating mindfully, you slow down and bring attention to your food, making eating an intentional act instead of an automatic one.
At Options, we understand that losing weight, creating a healthy lifestyle, and building a positive relationship with food takes time. Our programs are designed for everybody at any stage in their journey. We have programs that will get you to your goal and a Lifestyle program to help keep you at your goal. Contact us to get your free consultation and speak with an expert to get started today.