Mindful eating. It means a lot more than just thinking about what you’re eating at each meal. We talk a lot about what to eat and what not to eat – you can’t have carbs after 6pm, include this superfood powder to make you invincible. But why don’t we talk more about HOW we eat our food?
I don’t specifically mean counting ten chews of each mouthful of food or eating slowly. This isn’t all there is to mindful eating. The idea of mindful eating involves paying attention to the food experience, in and out of the body. It is easily to get distracted during a meal, technology being a key factor to distraction!
We are addicted and dedicated to technology in this day and age – hence why you’re reading this on a computer/laptop/phone right now. In some ways it is rightly so. It allows us to stay connected to friends or family and stay up to date on news topics. It’s easy to sit during breakfast, scrolling through Instagram to keep up with the Kardashian’s. However, there is the potential that it could become harmful to our health and our eating habits (and our sanity!).
What does mindful eating involve, I hear you ask in keen interest? Being mindful focuses on being aware of the present moment to help disconnect from habits and behaviours we have during eating. Mindful eating includes:
– Listening to your body and actually stopping when you’re full.
– Having a set dinner time and, if possible, eating with others.
– Eating when our body gives us a signal, which could mean a growling stomach (which is always loudest when you’re in a quiet environment!).
– Being able to identify and decide if what you’re eating is healthy or not.
– Identifying triggers for mindful eating – which could be technology, emotions or even certain foods.
Research has shown that mindful eating can help control binge eating, allow people to enjoy their food and become more in touch with hunger signals.
Mindful eating techniques
– Ask yourself if you are hungry or thirsty.
– Eat at a table – rather than on the couch or even in bed.
– Eat slowly, paying attention to your senses (smell, taste, sound, texture and look of the food).
– Try to eat with your non-dominant hand – if you’re a righty, use your left!
– Put your fork or spoon down between mouthfuls to avoid rushing food in.
– Check in with your hunger signals to determine if you are full.
– Avoid distractions by turning off the TV and not bringing your phone to the table.
I don’t mean you have to focus so hard on your food you feel like your head will explode, it can be started off slowly. Start with one or two techniques, at one meal. Remember, it’s not always about what foods we eat, but how we eat those foods as well.