7 Ways to Practice Mindful Eating
There are so many different mindful eating approaches to maintaining a healthy balanced diet. There is intermittent fasting, high protein, carb cycling and everything in between—but the goal of all of these diet plans is the same, to help you change your relationship with food so you can be the healthiest version of yourself possible.
All of these different diet plans do have their benefits, but the problem with them is simple; they are diets and aren’t very sustainable. The way you eat should be fully integrated into your life and into your everyday routine, because healthy eating is important.
Healthy eating is about more than numbers on a scale, it is being mindful about what you are putting into your body and how that food impacts your body. This process is known as mindful eating, and just as mindfulness can change the way you look at the world, mindful eating can completely change your relationship with food.
This Zen way of eating has not only been shown to help promote healthy weight loss, but it can help you feel better, it can help you make smarter choices and eat food that actually nourishes the body and it can help you reduce binging.
So, if you are looking to bring a little Zen to your diet, here are a few ways to start practicing mindful eating. These mindful approaches may just change the way you look at food entirely as you breathe new life into your diet plan.
Be Mindful Of…Mindful Eating
Before you can start mindful eating, you need to really understand what it is and what this practice entails. Mindful eating can seem as simple as just being aware of what you are putting into your mouth, but it is about more than that.
If you start by being mindful of the fact that you are mindful eating, you are going to go much farther with your efforts to change your relationship with food. Mindful eating is based on the Buddhist concept of mindfulness, which is a form of meditation that helps you recognize physical sensations and cope with your emotions.
Mindful eating is all about using mindfulness to reach a state of full attention to the experience of eating, including paying attention to cravings and physical cues. It is so powerful that it has been used to help treat many eating-related disorders and negative food behavior.
If you know what it is that you are getting into, it will be easier to stick with your mindful eating habits as you continue this journey.
Practice Be Mindful of Every Bite You Take
Sure, this sounds exhausting, but it is actually easier than it sounds. One of the best ways to practice mindful eating in a way that will actually help you lose weight and get healthier is to be mindful of everything you are putting in your body.
Before you just bite into something take a moment to think about what is in that something. What other foods make up the sandwich you are about to eat? Are these things going to nourish your body and give you energy and sustenance?
Just taking that moment to think about what it is that you are about to eat and how it is going to impact your body, is going to teach you to be more mindful. This is going to help you curb that binging, the mindless eating and help you stop giving in to sweet tooth cravings.
When you actually think about what you are eating instead of just succumbing to cravings or grabbing the first thing you can find.
Pay Attention to Your Plate
Remember, when you are eating, it is time to eat—it is not time to multi-task. This is the best way to make sure that you are being mindful of your eating and not just eating too much or too quickly.
Everyone loves to multi-task, but this can be a slippery slope that can lead to mindless eating. Instead of checking emails, watching TV and eating at the same time, just focus on your food. Put your attention on your plate, and you will be more mindful for what you are eating and how much you are eating.
Want a tip on how to make this easier? Put your phone in a different room, turn off the TV and sit down and make dinner time and dinner, and only dinner.
Remember, Your Body and Your Mind May Process Hunger Differently
There are so many people who are not being mindful of what they are eating. In our fast-paced world, eating has become a very mindless activity. We eat quickly, or on-the-go and don’t really take the time to think about what it is that we are eating or how full we are. After all, it takes about 20 minutes to even realize you are full—and most of us are already on to the next activity by then.
Instead of eating this way, you can be more mindful of not only what it is that you are eating, but how you are eating—particularly when it comes to how quickly you are ingesting food. For example, instead of just grabbing a bag of chips and eating them mindlessly on the sofa until you are full—sit down and plan out how much you are going to eat.
- Take your time.
- Listen to your body.
- Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full.
You have to let your body catch up to your brain. It sounds like common sense, but so many people don’t actually eat this way. Eat slowly and listen to your physical hunger cues and it will completely change your relationship with food.
Think About What “Type” of Hunger You Are Experience
You need to be mindful not only of your food, but of your body as well. We all get hungry, but there are actually different types of hunger, and you need to be able to understand why you are feeling hungry in any given situation.
There are different types of hunger, so you need to really listen to your body and think about why you are feeling hungry. Are you actually hungry because you need some nourishment? Or are you experiencing non-hunger triggers that make you think you want to eat.
There are many people who feel hungry when they are sad, stressed or even bored, and they can easily mistake these “hunger feelings” for actual hunger and eat when they don’t need to.
Be Mindful of How You Are Eating
So much of our unhealthy eating habits come from the circumstances surrounding those eating habits. This is part of being mindful of how you are eating not just what you are eating. If you are mindlessly wandering around looking for things to eat in your cabinets, eating at random times or always just snacking on the couch—this isn’t a healthy eating environment. This also isn’t a way to be mindful of what you are putting in your system.
Develop an eating schedule, put your food on a plate or in a bowl, and sit down at a table and actually eat a meal. The top people that fall victim to unhealthy eating habits are those who eat alone—which is why it is great to have a set eating schedule where you can eat, with others, at set times and places.
Pay Attention to Quality Rather than Quantity With Your Food
Real mindful eating is about eating high-quality foods, instead of high quantities of food. Take your time and slowly eat this high-quality food and let yourself feel full and satisfied, instead of focusing on eating at much as you can in a setting. Eating a little bit of real, high-quality foods are going to help you feel fuller and more satisfied than eating lots of junk food.
This is a very difficult for many people to do, especially if they are used to mindless, unfocused, junk eating. So, if you are going to completely change the way you eat and completely focus on quality foods instead of quantity foods—start slow. Begin with one meal.
Take your time to eat this way and then really think about how you feel about what you just ate. Change your perspective with this, one meal at a time and it will be easier and easier with each and every meal. Slowly it will go from one quality meal, to multiple meals, to a completely different way of eating all together.
Mindful eating is actually much easier than many people think, you just need to be willing to change your mindset and the way you think about food. If you change the way that you think about what and how you eat, you can start developing a healthier relationship with food.
BONUS: Healthy and mindful beverages like healthy kombucha is also a way to improve your mindset!
What are some ways you practice mindful eating?