How Mindful Eating Can Change Your Relationship with Food

We eat for so many reasons other than hunger. We use food to celebrate and to socialize, to make us feel better after a stressful day, and sometimes we eat just because we’re bored.  While there’s nothing wrong with a celebratory dinner or a treat meal after being perfect on your diet all week, these habits can lead to a negative relationship with food over time.

What is Mindful Eating?

Mindful eating is based on a form of meditation called mindfulness, and mindfulness, helps you recognize and cope with your emotions and physical sensations. To put it simply, it’s being fully aware in the moment when you’re eating and eliminating distractions.

Often times when we eat, we’re on our phones or laptops, watching TV, at our desk multitasking, or even driving. This pulls our attention away from our meal, and before we know it, our food is all gone and we’re left feeling unsatisfied or still hungry. But, are we actually still hungry? Or did we just scarf down our food without realizing it, or without giving our body enough time to digest the food and send signals to our brain that we’re full and should stop eating?

Mindful Eating and Weightloss

When we’re not fully aware of the food we’re eating- how it tastes, smells, and makes us feel- this can lead to overeating, which over time, can lead to weight gain. There is growing research that suggests incorporating mindful eating can help with weight problems.

However, it’s not to be confused with a diet- mindful eating is not about restricting certain foods or calorie intake, and it doesn’t mean you can’t get chips and salsa with your friends, or enjoy popcorn during a movie.  It’s simply a tool you can use that requires you to be more present and enjoy the experience of eating food. Let’s face it; in the world we’re living in today, we could all use fewer distractions and more time living in the moment.

How to Eat More Mindfully

Experts suggest starting gradually with mindful eating, using the technique with one meal a day or a week, eating in a more attentive manner.

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY’S HUNGER CUES

Tuning in to your physical hunger is the main key to mindful eating. Before you make the conscious decision to eat, ask yourself “How hungry am I right now? Am I eating out of hunger, emotion, or boredom?”  Pay close attention, sometimes dehydration can be confused with hunger. Try drinking a full bottle of water before eating your next meal and see if you feel less hungry.

EAT SLOWER AND WITHOUT DISTRACTION

Eating more slowly allows you to enjoy each bite as well as keeping you aware of your satiety levels. Chew each bite thoroughly.

THINK ABOUT THE FOOD YOU’RE EATING, WHILE YOU’RE EATING IT

Observe the smells, textures, and flavors of your food. How does it taste? How was your food produced? Are you satisfying a craving? If so, enjoy every little bit of it.

PAY ATTENTION TO THE WAY THE FOOD YOU’RE EATING MAKES YOU FEEL

It’s important that we take note of how foods make us feel after we eat them. This could help lead to healthier food choices on a daily basis. Choose the foods that make you feel refueled and energized after you eat them. Pay attention to the foods that leave you feeling tired and sluggish.

The Takeaway

Mindful eating can help you become more attune with your body and help regain control of your eating. Focus on being present and enjoy the experience of eating when you can. We all have busy days and are on the go, but regularly incorporating this powerful principle into your daily life, could change the way you eat and even your entire relationship with food.

 

https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/mindful-eating-may-help-with-weight-loss

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22888181/