Practical Tips for Mindful EatingJessica Cohen
Mindfulness is not a new concept, though it certainly is gaining a lot of attention lately. There is a general feeling of needing to step back inside for a bit and take more time to be in the moment. It seems that people, myself among them, are ready to eliminate some of the “noise” that has taken over our daily lives. We are busier than ever with the ability to combine our home and work lives like never before. And while most of us were excited at first about social media and the ability to catch up with anyone online 24 hours a day, now the consistent barrage of status updates has lost a bit of its previous luster.
Last week I posted about feeling the need to live more mindfully in 2014 because I am feeling it too. During the last weeks of the year in particular, I found myself unnecessarily overwhelmed and too many times that feeling ended with a bag of chips in my hands. So one of the benefits to shutting down the noise and living in the moment is the ability to recognize when we are eating because we are hungry or whether we are eating to fill an emotional need. For me, being tired is typically my trigger for mindless eating, so being in the moment will hopefully help me to be more conscious of that habit as inevitably I always realize a little too late.
Recently the New York Times posted an article about mindful eating being a way to stop bingeing, and I could not agree more. Lot of us have tricky relationships with food. Some use it as a method of control while others use it for a release.
What are the keys to eating more mindfully? Here are some pointers, a few practical tips for mindful eating:
- Eating mindfully is all about paying attention, and it is hard to pay attention when you are distracted, right? So put away the phone and shutting off the television so you can focus on your meal. Some might suggest sitting down while you are eating to better ensure that you are focusing on your meal rather than multitasking.
- Consider your food choice. Is it healthy? Does it offer vitamins, nutrients and protein, or is it derived of empty calories? This is especially important to pay attention to when you are eating out and did not cook your own meal.
- Be thankful. You do not have to say a prayer to be thankful for your food. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a great meal on the table each day.
- Do you know what real hunger is or when you might actually just be thirsty? If not, for a few days try drinking a glass of water each time you think you are hungry to see if you notice any differences in how you feel afterwards. You may just be filling your body with foods when you are not even hungry.
- By the same token, do you know when you feel full? Are there stages of fullness or do you just suddenly realize that you cannot eat another bite. Try paying attention to your body during mealtime to see if you can recognize anything you may not have known before.
- Pay attention to how you feel while you are preparing your meal, while you are eating it, as well as once you have finished. Pay attention to your emotions and mood changes. Does it make you feel anxious? Does it make you feel satisfied? Does it make you feel powerful? Since we know that many of us eat as an emotional response, it can be helpful to focus on how we feel while we are eating too.
- Eat slowly. Many of us rush through our meals and never get a chance to truly enjoy them with our senses. Consider the flavors as well as the colors, smells, and textures of your meal.
- Another way to practice mindful eating is to put your utensil down after every bite and pick it back up again before the next one. You will eat slower, giving your body a bit of a chance to digest, and therefore you will feel full faster.
- Try to focus your attention on what you are eating. Think about how it tastes as you eat it. Take time moment to savor it.
Mindful eating is just that; a mindset. So relax, enjoy and be in the moment with your food!
Image source: Morguefile.com
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