Have you ever finished a meal and felt completely full and uncomfortable or eaten a few chips and realized the whole bag was gone? These are symptoms of unconscious or mindless eating. Many of us don’t slow down to realize how our food tastes or to receive the first signal that our body is satisfied. We either continue to eat until we are completely stuffed or run out of food in front of us. Mindful eating is the process of slowing down while you’re eating and giving your full attention to your food. This process will allow you to receive satisfaction from eating smaller amounts of food and not to eat to excess. Mindful eating helps you realize the difference between feeling satisfied and feeling completely full. Learning to taste, smell and savor your food makes eating a much more enjoyable and rewarding experience.
Today’s lifestyle is fast paced. Many of us eat while watching television, talking on the phone or driving a car. By eating this way, we are unable to ask ourselves, “Does my body need this?” or “Why am I eating this? Is it because I’m stressed or sad?” There are some simple strategies to become a more mindful eater.
1. Start by recognizing if you are actually hungry before you begin eating. If you aren’t hungry, it may be difficult for you to enjoy your meal.
2. Don’t wait until you are famished. If you are over hungry, you will tend to eat faster and in turn, may eat too much.
3. Create a relaxing ambiance. Set the table and create a space that is pleasant with as little distractions as possible. Turn off the television and put down the phone. Allow your food to have your full attention.
4. Eat while sitting down not standing over the fridge or while walking around the house.
5. Take a few deep breaths before beginning your meal. This will help you become centered and slow down to appreciate what your about to eat.
6. Notice the textures, smells and colors of your food before eating. You can even imagine what your food might taste like.
7. Savor each bite of food. Notice the taste of your food in your food in your mouth and be sure to put your fork down between each bite. This will force you to slow down and allow you to experience the full flavor of your food.
8. If you notice you’re not enjoying what you are eating, choose something else. You do not want to leave your meal dissatisfied.
9. Take a break in the middle of your meal to realize what you have already eaten and estimate how much more food it may take for you to feel comfortable and satisfied.
10. Put down your fork as soon as you feel satisfied. Learn to recognize this feeling and avoid continuing to eat after you are satisfied.
11. Notice how you feel when you are satisfied and recognize that this is a different feeling than physical and emotional discomfort of overeating.