How to Practice Mindful Eating
Slow down, you eat too fast.
Have you finished your meal lately without even tasting it? It takes 20 minutes for the brain to catch up with the gut and register satiety (fullness). Eating too fast can lead to overeating. With the start of a new school year and the holidays fast approaching, it is easy to get caught up in mindless eating. Many of us find ourselves hurrying from one activity to the next, and need to be careful not to nibble on food along the way. If you are distracted and start munching, suddenly the bowl or container of food is empty. As you unknowingly grab for poor food choices, it is easy to lose track of why or how much you are eating.
Mindful eating is a slower, more thoughtful way of eating. Practice this exercise at home with the goal to eat less, while enjoying your food more.
- Select a healthy food, such as a low calorie/low fat protein snack, fresh fruit or veggie that you like.
- Remove any distraction such as the TV or nearby reading material. Eat alone, or in silence if others are with you.
- Sit in a comfortable position with the food placed in front of you.
- Take a few, slow, deep breaths and relax.
- Notice the appearance (color), texture and aroma of the food. Think about where the food came from.
- Tune into your body’s sense of hunger. If you do not need to eat, don’t! Wait until you are moderately hungry, rather than just an urge to eat.
- If hungry, take a small bite. Chew well, ideally twenty times. Pay attention to the sound (crunch), temperature, texture, and flavor of the food. Notice the action of the tongue and jaw muscles while chewing. If your thoughts wander, gently bring them back to the food. Is the food tasty? How do you feel eating it?
- Pause and focus on the sensation of swallowing. Breathe regularly and wait a few minutes.
- Tune in to your body and determine if you want to take another bite of food or not. If you want more food, ask yourself why – hunger or another reason, e.g. it tastes good, it’s just there, etc.
- Continue to eat if hungry, or stop eating when you are ready to do so. If others are present, ignore what they are doing. Try to eat just enough food to satisfy your hunger, before you feel too full.
Make a point to be mentally present when eating. “Fill up” your mind (and not just your stomach) with the experience of eating, and end up weighing less.