What is mindful eating? Mindful eating is the act of being fully present as you eat. It’s something we are all kind of aware that we’d like to practise more often, but usually fall into the trap of watching tv, being on our phones or reading a book or magazine.
Mindful eating has so many benefits and it’s simple to get the hang of, it just involves practise, patience and a little kindness during the moments that you forget to eat with awareness - we’re all only human, we make mistakes. Forgive yourself and take note of how you got distracted in order to improve next time.
What are the benefits of eating mindfully?
When we eat mindfully, meal and snack times become an experience rather than something we feel we ‘have’ to do. We savour and enjoy our food, we often stay fuller for longer as we’re conscious of how much we’ve eaten and we don’t tend to over eat. Mindful eating has even been proven to reduce anxious thoughts around food and body image.
My top 10 tips for mindful eating.
Before eating ask yourself am I hungry? We can often confuse hunger with emotional hunger. Hunger is something which comes on gradually whereas emotional hunger is a sudden pang and need to eat something immediately. This could be due to sad, angry or frustrated emotions as well as bored or even happy and excited emotions.
Distraction Free. Where possible turn off the tv, put your laptop aside, put your phone away. If that’s not possible try as best as you can to zone into your own little food world.
At the very least stop. If you can sit down, amazing. If you can sit down at a table, even better! But most importantly find some stillness.
Drink a little water before eating. You’ll be less likely to mindlessly shovel in food as that immediate need to satiate your hunger by filling your lovely tummy will be tended to.
Before taking your first bite, breathe in through your nose and hold the breath for four seconds, then breathe out through your mouth. Look at the yumminess in front of you and think of how grateful you are for it.
Choose to eat something yummy! You’re taking the time to care for yourself through nourishing your body and providing it with fuel- make it delicious! You won’t feel motivated to eat mindfully if you don’t really want to eat the food on your plate.
As you take your first bite, think about how you’d describe the food to someone who couldn’t eat it. Channel your inner Nigella and think about smell, appearance, taste, texture, flavours, what it’s similar to.
Try to put your knife & fork or spoon down between each mouthful rather than loading the next bite before swallowing the one in your mouth.
Chew your food! Savour the flavours, the texture, the goodness and chew your food until you feel you’ve chewed enough - 2 chews probably isn’t enough!
Think about how the food makes you feel. Content? Fulfilled? Guilty? Disappointed? Happy? Energised? If it’s a negative emotion delve into that further, ask yourself why and try to detangle these negative ties to food.
I’d love to hear about your own experiences with eating food mindfully. I’ve been chatting about mindful eating all week on my instagram and was overjoyed to see how many of you would like to hone your mindful eating skills. I hope these tools are of use to you, which is your favourite tip?