This day and age we often find ourselves eating on the run. Multi-tasking while we eat, often replying to emails or watching TV at the same time. So many of us have busy lives, which means that taking time out of our day to sit and enjoy a meal is often missed. Before we know it, unhealthy eating habits can kick in.
What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating involves paying attention to the whole eating experience. The colours, the smells, the texture, the flavours, the temperature and even the sound (crunch) of our food. We pay attention to how our body feels. Are we hungry? Bored? How does it make you feel? These are all strategies that help us eat with intention and attention.
You might have heard of the buzz word ‘mindfulness’ by eating mindfully, it is a part of the overall mindfulness practice.
Benefits of learning to eat mindfully:
There are a several benefits of mindful eating! When you consciously focus on how you eat, it can help you to find enjoyment in eating, among other benefits.
Some of the benefits of mindful eating include:
• You can learn to listen to your body and identify how food makes you feel. • Eating mindfully encourages you to really taste the food you are eating — so you may find new foods you enjoy! • You can learn to recognise when you start to feel full, reducing the chance of overeating. • Eating mindfully encourages you to chew your food thoroughly, which can be helpful for your digestive process. • Mindful eating can help to reduce emotional eating.
Mindful eating is not a ‘fad’ or a ‘diet’. It’s about developing a healthy attitude with food, trying to really connect with the food we eat and how it affects our body, mind and wellbeing.
How to eat mindfully
There is no right or wrong when it comes to mindful eating. But it can help you to become more aware of your senses and to savour the food you are eating.
- Have an eating routine
Having an eating routine is more about how and where you are eating. So don’t worry if you struggle to keep a regular meal time because of shift work or family commitments as we really just want to be removing yourself from the distractions around you and really focusing on what you are eating. This is a big part of being mindful. Have a UDII to prevent over eating and keeping you feel fuller for longer.
For example, if you tend to eat while watching TV, often called eating amnesia, you can ‘forget’ that you have eaten or not feel ‘full’ and quite easily overeat. Try moving to a table away from the living room. You’ll be more likely to enjoy your food and find it more satisfying when you are focused on it.
By setting time aside for meals and eating in a more relaxed environment allows you to focus on the meal in front of you.
- Eat when you are hungry
Sounds simple, right?! Does anyone else have ‘hungry days’? Maybe because you have done a big workout, or sometimes you might sleep in and have a later breakfast, pushing the rest of the meals later in the day.
We need to pay attention to our body and mind and the signals it gives us when we are actually hungry and not eating out of boredom. If you enjoy a Shapeup then this will give you enough protein, carbs and fat to keep you satiated.
- Eat slowly and pay attention to your senses
Mindful eating is engaging your senses. How does your food look? How does it smell? Once you take a bite, what is the texture like? What does it taste like?
Try to savour the tastes of the food, eat slow and chew your food. You might discover some new flavours you enjoy, which can open up new possibilities!
- Put your utensils down
Next time you eat, put your utensils down between mouthfuls. This helps with eating slowly and you are more likely to chew your food thoroughly (better for your digestion) and it gives you time to measure how full you are.
- Enjoy your meal!
Most importantly is to just be present when you eat. Just focus on one of these areas at a time.
If you want to be mindful then try to ditch the negative thoughts relating to food.
If you want to learn to eat mindfully, try to ditch negative thoughts about food. We don’t want to think that food is either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for us. Ideally having healthy eating habits is important for energy, growth, repair and general wellbeing, having a good relationship with food is even more important. If we restrict too many calories or think of a particular food as ‘off limits’ we are more likely to binge and over eat and ultimately take the enjoyment away from eating.
Practice mindful eating.
Changing behaviours and eating habits isn’t meant to be easy. It takes time! Don’t try to be perfect, just find what works for you. Pick a couple of healthy recipes that offer colour, flavour and texture like ‘Goodness Greens Fritters' this can make it easier to really pay attention to what you are eating.