Mindful eating involves becoming more aware of your thoughts, physical sensations and environment when eating. Mindfulness helps us become aware when we are eating out of hunger or to meet other emotional needs.
Start small and introduce mindful eating into one meal per week, starting by taking a moment before each bite to reflect. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you get started: 1. Give yourself enough time before beginning to eat.
1. Take a moment before you eat.
Before diving in to your food, take time to notice and appreciate its producers or preparers – their labor helped craft this delicious feast that awaits you. Consider its texture, temperature, colors and smells before indulging.
Turn off the television, put down your phone and focus on eating. Although this may initially seem difficult, with practice it becomes easier.
Remember, your body knows when you’re full; use its signals as guidance when choosing foods to consume. Tuning into hunger will allow you to make wiser food decisions.
2. Sit up straight.
When eating, make sure that you sit up straight with proper posture – this will reduce back pain and enhance digestion.
Slumped-over positions lead to reduced peristalsis – the digestive process that moves food throughout your system – leading to issues like indigestion, gas and other uncomfortable issues.
Be mindful of what you are eating and its sensory attributes such as taste, feel, smell, appearance and sound; all this can make the experience of mindful eating much more pleasurable for anyone – particularly those with sensory processing challenges.
3. Listen to your body.
As you enjoy your meal, pay attention to how your body responds. Does it feel tense or relaxed, hungry or full?
Hunger cues include feelings of irritability, fatigue, and an upset stomach; whereas fullness signals could include sensations of comfort or pressure in the abdomen.
Neurodivergent people may find interoceptive body cues difficult to access; that’s okay! Focus on using what feels helpful while leaving out anything unnecessary – you know your own body best! To practice mindful eating effectively, focus on sitting, slowing down and savoring every bite!
4. Take a few deep breaths.
Just taking a deep breath before eating can help relax and center your mind, which is essential for mindful eating. Incorporating this practice will also enable you to savor every bite more slowly.
Mindful eating can help you tune into your body’s true hunger cues and align with your true calorie needs. Furthermore, mindfulness makes choosing healthier food easier while eliminating emotionally driven eating patterns. For more information about mindful eating practices check out these resources.
5. Focus on the food.
Eating mindfully means paying close attention to every bite you put into your body – from shopping and preparation of meals and snacks through preparation and consumption.
Avoid distractions like reading, watching television or speaking to others while eating as this could lead to mindless snacking and overeating.
To increase mindfulness, try this exercise: hold a raisin in your hand and examine its shape, color and texture – plus its scent! – as well as how it feels on both hands and tongue.
6. Take a few seconds to savor each bite.
As you eat, slowly chew each bite while paying close attention to its taste, fully appreciating each flavor – paying special attention to which of the five basic tastes (umami, bitter, sweet, salty and sour) you’re experiencing (umami, bitter, sweet salty or sour).
Be mindful of both hunger and fullness signals throughout a meal or snack to avoid overeating. This will help ensure you consume only what your body requires.
Remind yourself that everything you eat was once alive – including vegetables, grains and fruits that once enjoyed living lives before being harvested for your consumption.
7. Eat slowly.
Eating slowly is essential to mindful eating; it allows your body to register when it has had enough food and prevents overeating.
Try practicing mindfulness exercises like “raisin meditation” to experience slowing down during meals and snacks and really enjoying all their flavors and textures.
Monitoring hunger and fullness levels throughout a meal or snack is also key in order to determine if you truly need food, as well as making better decisions regarding what you consume.
8. Don’t rush.
Stop eating too quickly! Rushing our meals makes it harder to recognize when our body has had enough.
Food can often seem bland when consumed quickly. Remember that every bite on your plate was once alive–animals and plants both lived their own lives prior to reaching your plate.
Make mealtimes a priority and plan your schedule around them, even if it means breaking some habits – the payoff will be a healthier relationship with food!