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5 Tips for Eating More Mindfully

Mindful Eating

What is it?

Mindful Eating is eating with intention and attention. Eating is a natural, healthy pleasurable activity for satisfying hunger. However, in our food abundant, diet-obsessed culture, eating is often mindless, consuming, and guilt inducing. Mindful eating is an ancient practice that helps resolve troubled, love-hate relationships with food.

There are two parts to Mindful Eating:

1.     Eating with the intention of caring for yourself, because you know food along with exercise and stress control are the key predictors of future health.

2.     Eating with the attention necessary to notice and enjoy your food and its effects on your body.

 

Why should I try it?

Eating mindfully helps bring us to our bodies and keep us there, so that we can receive the messages from our body about hunger and satiation. It is the first step to examining your relationship with food, in hopes of changing it for the better. In time, it helps us recognize non-hunger triggers for eating, chose food for both enjoyment and nourishment, and eat for optimal satisfaction and satiety. In 2010, research showed that mindfulness based strategies significantly reduced food cravings in overweight adult populations[1].

 

How do I do it?

There are guided techniques for practicing mindful eating such as Jean Kristellar’s Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training (MB-EAT) which teach people how to taste their food, recognize their levels of hunger and fullness, and be more accepting of their food preferences. One exercise involves eating a few raisins slowly, paying close attention to their flavor sensations and how they change with time.

 

Tips for Eating Mindfully:

-       Turn off the TV, put away the newspaper, don’t do anything but eat.

-       Before taking your first bite, take a few deep breaths to slow yourself down from a hard days work. This helps connect your mind and body.

-       When you look at the food on the table, try naming each dish: “arugula salad,” “pea soup,” and so on.

-       If eating with others, steer mealtime conversation toward the food: acknowledge the local farmer who grew your lettuce and tomatoes, thank the person who prepared the fish, or talk about other topics that help nourish your gratitude and connection to your food and each other.

-       Refrain from hashing over work or the latest atrocities in the news; refrain from arguing. (In Vietnam, it is customary to never chastise anyone while they are eating so as not to disturb their digestion.)

-       Engage all your senses; notice the sounds, colors, smells, and textures, as well as your mind’s response to them.

-       Savor small bites and chew thoroughly.

-       Slow down: try consciously putting your utensils down in between bites.

-       Don’t skip meals: skipping meals can make it harder to make mindful choices.

 

Thoughts? Share them in the Comments below!

[1] Alberts, et al. (2010) Coping with food cravings. Investigating the potential of a mindfulness based intervention. Appetite: Eating and Drinking,