Do you ever eat in front of the TV or the computer and when you are done, you don’t remember what you just ate? Or how it tasted? I’m was totally guilty of this. I would make my lunch, sit down in front of the computer, scroll through Facebook, then suddenly look down to find an empty plate. I would have almost no memory of the taste, texture, or pleasure of eating.
The result of this mindless eating? The numbers on the scale kept rising! I would spend time making these fantastic meals, but I couldn’t help but notice I felt disconnected from the food I was eating. Which is when I turned to mindful eating.
Mindful eating is a practice that allows you to become more aware of your food. It’s about being present and aware of what you are eating and why. It’s not about a “crash diet,” it’s thinking about hunger levels (“How hungry am I as I unwrap this treat?”) and savouring food (“What textures and flavours do I feel when I take this bite?”)
Awareness is key to mindful eating. By being present and getting rid of all distractions, you learn what is feels like to be hungry, satisfied, and full. It’s about checking in with your brain and stomach, and asking if your body needs food.
We are constantly bombarded with messages to consume super-sized meals or at the very least, food that isn’t good for us. Just yesterday, I saw a commercial for Dunkin’ Donuts. I was appalled when I heard their slogan, “America runs on Dunkin’!”
These large companies play with our emotions, which leads us to binge eating, constant dieting, and bouncing back and forth between fasting and feasting. Add on top of that all the distractions we are faced with on a daily basis: email, Facebook, Twitter, cell phones, TV, etc. This causes us to eat quickly and consume additional calories, which leads to weight gain.
So how do we move from mindless eating to mindful eating? Here are a few tips:
- Check with your stomach and your brain to determine how hungry you actually are before you eat. This will help determine if you are reaching for food because of your emotions, or because you actually have hunger pangs.
- Eat without distractions. Turn off your cell phone, TV, or computer.
- Focus on the delicious food in front of you.
- Slow down and chew your food (at least 15 chews per mouthful).
- Put your fork and knife down between bites.
- Take a moderate first serving. If you want seconds, ask yourself why: is it hunger or habit?
- Stop eating when you feel two-thirds full.
- Aim to have sit-down meals with your family.
- Try mindful substitutions to deal with cravings. Want a chocolate bar? Try a single square of chocolate instead to savour the flavour.
Mindful eating has become an important part of my healthy lifestyle. By being completely aware of what I’m putting in my mouth, I was able to start losing weight the healthy way, without the use of starvation diets and other unhealthy practices.
Do you practice mindful eating? What are some of your tips to eat mindfully?