What Does It Mean To Be A Mindful Eater?
Mindful eating is a phrase that gets thrown around quite a bit, especially when it comes to weight loss. However, mindful eating is not a weight loss solution. While it may result in weight loss for some, it’s so much more than just a diet or weight loss tactic.
Mindful eating is a healthy, natural and pleasurable way of eating and satisfying hunger.
We eat on the run, while working and watching television, so hurried and distracted that we don’t taste what we’re eating and most times we don’t realize how the food we’re eating is affecting our bodies until after we’ve eaten beyond the point of satiety.
Mindful eating is the solution to this, but it’s not a quick fix. Just like yoga, it takes practice and time to break old habits. Eating with intention and awareness requires you to genuinely pay attention to what you’re eating: noticing the taste, texture and smell of your food, chewing slowly, savoring each individual bite of food before moving on to the next.
It is not just about the food, it also involves paying attention to your body and your mind:
Noticing sensations of fullness hunger, and satisfaction
Paying attention to how you feel when you’re eating, and after – bloated, gassy, etc.
Understanding how food affects your mood – do certain foods make you feel more anxious or depressed?
If mindful eating is something you’d like to try, start here:
The next time you sit down to eat, look at your plate and notice what you see – what colors are on your plate?
Take a deep breath. This will help relax your body, which is great for digestion, but also gives you the opportunity to smell your food.
Below are some tips to introduce mindfulness to mealtimes in an easy, accessible fashion:
- Eat slower- Eating slowly doesn’t have to mean taking it to extremes. Still, it’s a good idea to remind yourself, and your family, that eating is not a race. Taking the time to savor and enjoy your food is one of the healthiest things you can do. You are more likely to notice when you are full, you’ll chew your food more and hence digest it more easily, and you’ll probably find yourself noticing flavors you might otherwise have missed. If you have young children, why not try making a game of it — who can chew their food the longest? Or you could introduce eating with chopsticks as a fun way to slow things down.
- Savor the silent- Yes, eating in complete silence may be impossible for a family with children, but you might still encourage some quiet time and reflection. Again, try introducing the idea as a game — “let’s see if we can eat for two minutes without talking” — or suggesting that one meal a week be enjoyed in relative silence. If the family mealtime is too important an opportunity for conversation to pass up, then consider introducing a quiet meal or snack time into your day when you can enjoy it alone.
- Silence the phone, shut off the TV-Our daily lives are full of distractions, and it’s not uncommon for families to eat with the TV blaring or one family member or other fiddling with their iPhone. Consider making family mealtime, which should, of course, be eaten together, an electronics-free zone. I’m not saying you should never eat pizza in front of the TV, but that too should be a conscious choice that marks the exception, not the norm.
- Pay attention to flavor-The tanginess of a lemon, the spicyness of arugula, the crunch of a pizza crust — paying attention to the details of our food can be a great way to start eating mindfully. After all, when you eat on the go or wolf down your meals in five minutes, it can be hard to notice what you are even eating, let alone truly savor all the different sensations of eating it. If you are trying to introduce mindful eating to your family, consider talking more about the flavors and textures of food. Ask your kids what the avocado tastes like, or how the hummus feels. And be sure to share your own observations and opinions too. (Yes, this goes against the eating in silence piece, but you don’t have to do everything at once.)
- Know your food- Mindfulness is really about rekindling a relationship with our food. From planting a veggie garden through baking bread to visiting a farmers market, many of the things we locavores have been preaching about for years are not just ways to cut our carbon foodprint, but also connect with the story behind our food. Even when you have no idea where the food you are eating has come from, try asking yourself some questions about the possibilities: Who grew this? How? Where did it come from? How did it get here? Chances are, you’ll not only gain a deeper appreciation for your food, but you’ll find your shopping habits changing in the process too.
Your old habits of eating may be hard to break, but remember that lasting change takes time. The more you practice eating mindfully, the easier it will become.
To learn more about changing your eating habits and getting your health back on track, contact Foundations Medical Center at 850.269.9000 or visit our website at: www.foundationsmedicalcenter.com