Mindful eating. What does that mean, actually?
It's....mindfully choosing what foods to consume.
It's....mindfully choosing how to consume them.
It's....mindfully choosing when and why to eat.
It's....mindfully choosing where we eat.
What is mindful eating?
Generally defined, mindful eating is developing an awareness of how the food we choose to eat affects our bodies, our emotions, and our thoughts. It’s also about listening without judgment to our body’s communications about what we want to eat and when we want to eat.
Think of mindful eating as the opposite of dieting. In mindful eating, there are no rules, no labeling of foods as “good” or “bad,” no judgments. Instead, it is a way of life; a way to take pause, and a way to bring a profound sense of self-awareness and care to how we feed and nourish ourselves.
Tips for mindful eating
Here are three easy tips to be more present, make healthier choices, and be more mindful about the way we are eating. They are a great way to begin "treating" ourselves to better choices.
1. Be here now.
Every time we have to eat and fuel our bodies, it's a chance to practice being more present and more aware of our actions and thoughts. Before you begin eating, take a pause or perhaps a couple of minutes of breathwork. Meals can literally be a tiny break in your day to bring you back to the Now.
2. Make a choice.
3. It's about self-care
Reframe your situation. Maybe you're having a challenging day. Stop. Breathe. Remind yourself that you are worthy of good health.
Say it out loud, as a statement:
I am worthy of good health. I have the power to choose.
If you choose to "eat" your feelings, you will spiral to the negative. If you choose a healthier food choice, you will be proud of yourself and it will lead to more positive feelings.
Practice mindful eating
Similar to a meditation practice, mindful eating requires you to intently focus and eliminate distractions. Try the following steps for taking a more mindful approach to food:
- Slow down. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to receive hormonal signals that you’re full. That should be the bare minimum length of your meal to allow time to recognize when you're full and put down your fork.
- Chew food thoroughly. The amount you should chew depends on the type of food — i.e., cooked lentils require less chewing than a piece of steak — but 32 times is often quoted as a magic number.
- Utilize all of your senses to taste and fully experience your food. Notice how it looks, smells, feels, and tastes. Observe the flavor, texture, and temperature of the food.
- Remove all distractions like television and social media while eating to give full attention to your food and the experience of eating.
- Be aware of hunger and fullness signals and honor these cues in deciding when and how much to eat.
- Without judgment, reflect on how the food makes you feel during and after the meal. Use this insight to guide future choices.
The coolest part?
Mindfulness, like any other skill, becomes stronger with practice. And when you develop it, you have that skill for life.
Eating mindfully leads to more awareness of how our choices affect the health of our bodies. Eating mindfully enables us to enjoy preparation, presentation, as well as the people we gather to eat with. Eating mindfully allows us to experience the aroma and the taste of our food.
Let’s give ourselves this gift.
Karla Freeze is a Soul Care Partner with a passion for living life with a positive mindset. She also educates and coaches about the value of a plant-based diet. Through eating, moving, and mindset, she has reversed all her diseases, lost an enormous amount of weight, has energy galore, and advocates daily for everyone to adopt this way of life.