Learning the art of mindful eating can be an incredible asset in improving our relationship with food. Engaging in this beautiful practice helps us to become aware of our experience including our physical surroundings and emotional and mental involvement. So, how do we eat mindfully and what does it entail?
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is defined as being present, free from judgement.
In other words, it means focusing your awareness on what you are experiencing through your senses and noting how it relates to your thoughts and feelings.
When you eat mindfully, you experience your food in the present moment and allow yourself to figure out what thoughts and emotions are impacting your relationship with food.
What are the Benefits of Mindfulness?
Mindfulness can be applied to just about anything to improve your experience.
Whether you use it at work to improve focus and concentration or you use it when you work-out your body to improve your physical form, it enhances your involvement.
When you eat mindfully and fully experience your food, you leave the table feeling satisfied.
Eating mindfully can prevent over-eating. This in turn helps you to have a healthier relationship with food.
7 Ways to Eat Mindfully
Engage Your Senses
By noticing how our food looks, smells, tastes, and feels like, you are fully engaged and completely able to experience your food.
This is the core of mindful eating.
By eating slowly, you are able to fully use your senses and enjoy your food.
Notice how your food looks on the plate. Does it look yummy? Are there a lot of different colors? Do the colors go well together?
How does your food smell? Is this smell reminding you of anything?
What does your food sound like? Can you describe what it sounds like as you chew your food? Loud and crunchy? Quiet and chewy?
How is the food feeling in your mouth (or in your hands)? What does the texture feel like? Is it creamy? Hard? Difficult to chew? Easy to chew?
How does the food taste? Is it sweet? Spicy? Neutral? Does it taste good? Bad? Would you want to eat this meal again?
How does this food feel to eat?
Does it make you feel refreshed or does it give you a stomach ache?
What thoughts and feelings come up as you eat this food?
What are you experiencing mentally and emotionally later in the day after you ate the food?
Do you think your thoughts and feelings are related to a particular food that you ate?
Watch Your Thoughts
As you eat mindfully, notice what thoughts are going through your head.
Take note of what your thoughts are saying and allow them to pass through you like water through a colander.
If you are experiencing a particularly upsetting thought and it is difficult to move on, ask yourself why you might be experiencing this thought.
What does this thought or thought pattern mean to you and why do you think it keeps coming up?
What does it really mean?
Is it related to the food in front of you?
Feel Deep Gratitude For Your Food
Gratitude and Mindful eating go hand- in- hand because part of experiencing something is feeling gratitude.
In Rhonda Byrne’s book on gratitude, The Magic, she says she likes to sprinkle “gratitude dust” on her food, and it makes her feel more gratitude for the food she eats.
Imagine sprinkling gratitude dust on your food.
As you sprinkle the dust, take a moment to feel deep appreciation and gratitude for the food in front of you.
Observe during and after your meal if you felt deeper appreciation for your food and if you were able to experience it in the moment.
When you feel more gratitude, you feel more satisfaction and in essence, more satiety from less food.
Take Your Time
In order to eat mindfully and truly taste your food, it is important to take small bites and chew slowly and thoroughly.
Harvard Medical School in their online publication Harvard Health Publishing, recommends that you chew your food 20-40 times before swallowing.
The more you chew, the more flavors are released and the more you feel satisfied as you leave the table.
It is impossible to eat mindfully if you are doing multiple things at once.
Meal time is just as much about the company you are with as it is about the food.
Instead of eating in front of the TV or computer, try eating at the table with your loved ones.
Create an atmosphere: light candles, play music in the background, and eat off of dinnerware that makes you feel happy.
This all contributes to the idea that you being present with your food
and focusing on what you are eating and experiencing.
The more you can engage your senses, the more enjoyable and fulfilling your experience will be.
Notice Your Satiety
Satiety means how full you feel.
This is a major aspect of eating mindfully.
Rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 where one is so hungry you feel lightheaded and 10 is after-Thanksgiving-full.
What is your satiety level? Rate yourself before, during and after a meal.
Asking yourself, “What is my satiety level?” throughout your day is very helpful in mindful eating.
You can use this to decide what to eat.
For example, if it is meal time, but your hunger level is a 7, you may decide to eat later.
Or if you haven’t eaten in a while, you may decide to make yourself a lighter meal, such as a smoothie.
Ask About Your Food
Part of eating mindfully includes asking yourself the following questions:
- Was this food grown organically?
- Was is grown locally?
- What are the health benefits of eating this kind of food?
- Is this food overly processed?
- Is it healthy?
Wrapping It Up
Mindfulness, while it is a simple concept, can take a while to master.
As you practice mindfulness, it is important to practice patience and lovingkindness with yourself.
Watch this YouTube video here to see how to overcome frustration when eating mindfully.
Eating mindfully can have a variety of benefits including improved digestion, feeling fulfilled, eating healthy amounts of food and improving your relationship with food.
If you practice all of the tips in this post and still experience difficulty, book a session with me to day by clicking here so that we can release the energy that is causing this frustrating experience!
Wishing you the best on your journey,