Rather than focus on what to eat and what not to eat, I thought I would briefly discuss the notion of how to eat. Have you ever eaten a plate of food and felt like you never really tasted a bite? Either the food was really awful or you suffered ‘eating amnesia,’ a complete disconnect from the food you ate.
Mindful eating may seem mindless but very few of us regularly listen to our hunger, fullness and taste cues. As Americans, we often eat on the go. We do it while watching tv, on the computer, reading, or talking on the phone. We do it standing up, driving, walking, or commuting on mass trans. I even saw a commuter inhale his breakfast while jogging. Something tells me he was operating on something other then his hunger cues.
Mindful eating is like meditation while eating. You consciously slow down your pace and become more aware of your body and reach inward. You take time to cherish your plate and your body. It’s no wonder that mindful eating has helped “emotional eaters” with weight loss and even anorexia nervosa.
Top 6 Tips to Eating More Mindfully:
1. Slow down the pace of eating. Take a few breaks during bites. Chew more slowly. Take a break to breathe. Assess how full you feel.
2. Eat away from distractions. Try not to eat in the car, while watching tv or on the computer.
3. Become aware of the body’s cues. Pay attention to when you are hungry. Try eating only when you are hungry. Pay attention to when you’re full or almost full. How do you feel? Try to let these cues guide your decision to eat or stop eating, as opposed to how much food is left on your plate, what hour it is, etc. Do the best you can.
4. Choose foods that are both nourishing AND pleasurable. If you dislike something, don’t torture yourself. Don’t eat it. No judgment. Give yourself permission to indulge in decadent foods once in a while and savor it.
5. Use all your senses while eating. Take time to notice or feel a food’s texture, unique color, and wonderful fragrance. No two foods are exactly the same. Make your plate beautifully colorful using a variety of foods.
6. Reflect on the effects caused by unmindful eating. Unmindful eating may include eating out of boredom, eating when you’re stressed, or overeating to the point of feeling uncomfortable. How do you feel afterwards? Become more aware of unmindful eating.
For more on this topic:
- “What You Should Know About Mindful and Intuitive Eating” by Jennifer Mathieu. JAMA. Dec 2009.
- “Intuitive Eating” by Tribole & Resch.