Eating is a natural, healthy, and pleasurable activity for satisfying hunger. However, in our food-abundant, diet-obsessed culture, eating is often mindless, consuming, and guilt-inducing instead.
Mindfulness, the concept of being present in the moment, and mindful eating, being aware of all facts of the eating process, is being used widespread as a tool to improve eating behaviours, promote weight control, prevent lifestyle disease, and cultivate a wholesome and healthful relationship with food.
So, what is mindful eating?
Mindful eating is an important skill that involves focusing your attention and awareness on the present moment to help move away from habitual, unsatisfying, and harmful habits and behaviours. Mindful eating is about eating with the attention necessary for noticing and enjoying your food and its effects on your body. It’s about checking whether you’re really hungry, and if so, eating slowly, enjoying each mouthful and watching for signs that you’re full so you don’t overeat.
The benefits of mindful eating
- Reduced over eating.
- Increased enjoyment of food.
- Improved digestion.
- Being satisfied with less.
Tips to become a mindful-eater
- Slow down – Taking the time to savour and enjoy your food is one of the healthiest things you can do. You are more likely to notice when you are full, you’ll chew your food more and hence digest it more easily, and you’ll probably find yourself noticing flavours you might otherwise have missed.
- Stop multitasking at meal times – Our daily lives are full of distractions, and it’s not uncommon for families to eat with the TV blaring or one family member or other fiddling with their iPhone. Consider making family mealtime, which should, of course, be eaten together, an electronics-free zone.
- Go for foods that are enjoyable and tasty to you. When you are being mindful with your eating, you try to appreciate and pay attention to your various sensations while eating. Doing this is easier with flavourful, delicious foods you truly enjoy. And don’t forget: Nutritious food can be tasty, too.
- Eat at the table – It’s important to take time out for your meals and where you decide to eat has a big impact on the way you feel about food. Set the table for yourself; get a drink; sit and down and enjoy your dinner. You’ve spent the time preparing it, so it makes sense that you should spend some time enjoying it.
- Go for quality not quantity – When choosing food, always go for quality over quantity and you will be far more satisfied.
- Pause halfway through the meal – paying attention to your fullness signals during the meal. This helps you be in tune with the right time to stop eating.