Mindful Eating – How to Change Your Relationship with Food
We eat for so many reasons beyond hunger – meals are used for celebration, to soothe your emotions, to quell boredom. But those habits can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food. And with so many of us trying to lose weight, it’s good to take a look at not only what you are eating but also how you are eating. It is a new practice known as mindful eating.
What Is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating takes the Buddhist concept of mindfulness and uses it during meal times. The idea being that often, when we eat, it’s an afterthought. Perhaps we eat while we’re driving or distracted by the TV or our phones. When that happens, we don’t listen to when our body tells us its full and we eat more than we need to. This unhealthy eating can lead to weight gain. Mindful eating forces us to slow down and really engage with our food and allows us to hear when our body tells us to stop eating.
How Do I Try It?
According to the experts at Healthline, the main ideas of mindful eating involve a few steps:
- Eating slowing and without distraction
- Listening to physical hunger cues and eating only to the point you are full
- Distinguishing between true hunger and non-hunger triggers for eating (i.e. boredom)
- Engaging your senses by noticing colors, smells, sounds and textures
- Learning to cope with guilt and anxiety involving food
- Eating to maintain overall health and wellbeing
- Noticing how your meal effects your feelings
- Appreciating and honoring your food
In this age of ordering meals with a click on an app, we think being mindful during meal prep is also important. Cooking with family and friends is a fun way to practice mindfulness.
The Results of Mindful Meals
More research has emerged proving that most weight loss programs do not work. However, those who engage in a mindful eating program are more likely to lose weight and keep the weight off for longer periods of time than those who don’t. By changing your relationship with food, you no longer experience feelings of guilt or shame when making meal choices, which can lead to binging or overeating. Instead, you are more aware of your food and your body and are able to make healthy eating choices with less emotional strife and less overall stress at meal times.
A Few Tips
To try mindful eating, here are a few tips on how to start:
- Eliminate distractions like the TV or your phone
- Eat slowly and don’t rush your meals
- Chew thoroughly
- Eat in silence – treat it as a meditative experience.
- Stop eating when you’re full
- Ask yourself why you are eating, whether you are truly hungry and if the food you are choosing is healthy
- Focus on how the food makes you feel – inside and out.
To practice mindful eating, start with one mindful meal a
day. Once you have a handle on one
meal, try expanding this practice to all your meals. You will notice your
relationship to food and meals change over time and, in all likelihood, your body
will change as well.