Habits, busy lives, stress… This not only determines what we eat, but HOW we eat.
Mindful eating is becoming more important, in an increasingly fast-paced society of on-the-go meals and convenience. It actually has its roots in Buddhist teachings with an aim towards enjoying the experience of eating vs. just filling up your fuel tank.
So what is being mindful? Being mindful is being in the here and now, in the moment. Mindfulness focuses on the very present, and not thinking about anything else that is going, especially anything negative. It’s avoiding all that clutter floating around in your head and focusing on exactly what is going on at this very moment. It is slowing down to think before you act.
Mindful eating is being aware of the nurturing aspects of eating, rather than only eating impulsively because you are hungry. By paying attention to what your body really needs, you will find yourself making better food choices. You will gain awareness of how you can make choices that support your health and wellbeing, which will ultimately guide you in weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight. Thinking about WHAT you are about to eat and how you might FEEL about it is an important factor in weight loss.
For example, you might desire something fatty and greasy, but how are you going to feel afterwards? Will it actually make you feel better or worse? Are you basing your meal on a physical cue, such as your body’s hunger signal, or and emotional one — like eating for comfort? Do you appreciate the food on your plate? Is it appetizing? Or does it just look like a pile of sloppy matter, not resembling anything in nature and void of aroma and flavor? You might find that your eating is often based out of primal urges and not out of pleasure.
So how can you avoid mindlessly munching on snacks while zoned out in front of the TV or computer, grazing without tasting, and eating until you are too full and feeling guilty? How can you replace a meal of apathy with one of passion?
- Pay attention to your body.
By waiting until you are so hungry that you just want to put something into your stomach, no matter what it is, you will most likely overeat poor foods. Also pay attention to satiety. After eating a little, do you really need to eat more? Are you satisfied? Don’t eat until you are feeling “full.” Are you actually hungry, or are you mistaking that feeling with thirst? Are you feeling anxious, bored, or stressed, and are trying to fix it with food?
- Let cravings have their way, modestly.
Just because you’re paying attention to what and how you eat doesn’t mean you can’t have treats once in a while. Think of how you can satisfy those cravings in a better way. It’s better to give in a little early than find yourself binge eating later.
- Use all of your senses.
Appreciate the appearance of your food. Focus on the colors and how fresh your vegetables look, how juicy your fruits look. Breathe in the aroma and look at what nature has given you. Imagine what this food will do for your body, the vitamins and minerals streaming throughout your blood to repair your cells and bring to life new ones.
- Try eating in silence.
It doesn’t mean you have to practice monkhood. Just find a little time away from usual business if you can, and chew every morsel of food as you explore its tastes, textures and smells in detail.
- Do one thing at a time.
Don’t do anything else when you’re eating. Shut the laptop. Turn off the TV. Get off the phone. The best way to eat for weight loss is to s-l-o-w it down. Enjoy each bite and don’t focus on just trying to get a meal down. Focus on the process, and by doing so you’ll be happy with the end result.
I encourage you to make a change in your life when it comes to not only what you eat, but also how you eat. That’s what I did, and once you get the hang of it, it will be a new habit that will not only make you feel better, but will help you melt off pounds without even noticing an effort.