4 Simple Mindful Eating Tips

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Your New Year’s resolutions might be in the rear-view mirror, but with summer right around the corner, now is a great time to make a healthy habit pit stop on your wellness journey.

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?

  • You quickly eat lunch at your desk while working
  • When sitting in front of the TV, you not only eat, but finish a bag of chips/container of ice cream/*insert favorite treat here*
  • After eating a meal, you feel completely overstuffed and uncomfortably full
  • When walking by a table of food at a party, you take whatever is in front of you, without thinking twice

With busy work days, full social calendars, taking care of the kids – the list goes on – it can be challenging to take notice of food intake and maintain a balanced eating regimen. And although the examples above are small ways people eat without thinking, those little actions could turn into a bigger problem and sabotage your health without you even realizing.

Enter MINDFUL EATING!

mind·ful
adjective: mindful
Conscious or aware of something

What is Mindful Eating?

Mindful eating is a way to bring awareness to your experiences with food. This practice helps your brain and body communicate so you know when you’re hungry, satisfied, or full. When eating mindfully, you pay attention to what your body is trying to say and take notice of the smaller actions you might not normally notice. This means taking your time to be fully aware of what you’re consuming, only eating when you’re hungry, and stopping when you’re full.

Mindless eating is often associated with obesity. When curbing mindless habits, you can eliminate bloating and indigestion – plus potentially be at a healthier weight.

4 Simple Ways to Start Today

  1. Ask “Am I physically hungry?”

When reaching for a snack, try asking yourself that question.

> If you answer no, then ask, “Why am I hungry?”
Are you bored? Thirsty? Tired? Upset? These can often be confused for hunger.

> If you answer yes, then ask, “How hungry am I?”
Assess how much food you really need and stop eating when you’re not hungry…not when you’re full!

Helpful tip! Take 5
If you can’t figure out your level of hunger, take five minutes and distract yourself before turning to food.
Try this hunger scale to see how hungry you really are.

  1. Stop with the distractions

If using a phone, computer, or TV while eating, you’re not listening to your body tell you when it’s full. During your next meal, take a break from the electronics and only focus on the food you’re consuming. Notice the look, texture, smell, and tastes!

  1. Slow down

It takes 20 minutes for our stomach to receive the signal that we’re full. Try putting down your fork between bites and drinking a glass of water as you’re eating.

  1. Manage your environment

Controlling food temptations around you can be another easy way to create a mindful eating habit.

  • Put away part of a meal before you start eating – this will help you prevent overeating, and leaves you with leftovers for the next day!
  • Take out a portion of the food, instead of eating right out of the container
  • Use different sized dishes to appropriately match a meal
    • Salad plate for dinner
    • Smaller dish for ice cream

Mindful Extras

Switch things up by adding these mindful eating hacks to your next meal:

  • Use a fork with your non-dominant hand
  • Scrap the fork and knife altogether…give chopsticks a shot instead!
  • When socializing around a table of food, hold your drink in your dominant hand so you can’t easily grab food

I’d love to hear how you practice mindful eating. Share your tips and tricks by commenting below!

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Brigham and Women’s Hospital

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