Mindfulness is an intentional focus on your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations in the present moment. Mindfulness promotes becoming more aware of, rather than reacting to, your situation and choices.
So, eating mindfully means that you are using all of your physical and emotional senses to experience and enjoy the foods you eat. This helps to increase gratitude for food, which can improve the overall eating experience. It also encourages you to make choices that will be satisfying and nourishing. Mindful eating discourages “judging” your own or anyone else’ eating behaviors as there are different types of eating experiences.
- Consider the wider spectrum of the meal: where the food came from, how it was prepared, and who prepared it
- Notice internal and external cues that affect how much we eat
- Notice how the food looks, tastes, smells, and feels in our bodies as we eat
- Acknowledge how the body feels after eating the meal
- Express gratitude for the meal
- Reflect on how our food choices affect our local and global environment
HOW TO EAT MINDFULLY:
- Honor the food. Acknowledge where the food was grown and who prepared the meal. Eat without distractions to help deepen the eating experience.
- Engage all senses. Notice the sounds, colors, smells, tastes, and textures of the food and how you feel when eating. Pause periodically to engage these senses.
- Serve in modest portions. This can help avoid overeating and food waste. (You can always go back for seconds)
- Savor small bites, and chew thoroughly. These practices can help slow down the meal and fully experience the food’s flavors.
- Eat slowly to avoid overeating. If you eat slowly, you are more likely to recognize when you are feeling satisfied, or when you are about 80% full and can stop eating.
- Don’t skip meals. Going too long without eating increases the risk of strong hunger, which may lead to the quickest and easiest food choice, not always a healthful one. Setting meals at around the same time each day, as well as planning for enough time to enjoy a meal or snack reduces these risks.
- Consider the long-term effects of eating certain foods. If you’re allergic to wheat or dairy, yet continue to eat it even though it causes you digestive discomfort, consider over time how that will affect your gut lining, the damage done to your immune system, and the enjoyment (or lack thereof) surrounding those foods. The long-term effect can also relate to environmental factors like how sustainable a crop is or who must do the labour to harvest it. Production of animal-based foods like meat and dairy take a heavier toll on our environment than plant-based foods (most of the time).
We all do it. We eat while driving the kids to practice, while driving to work, while answering emails, on a conference call or working while watching TV, or while scrolling on the phone.
Everyone does it…. and we need to make a conscious effort to stop.
Because unfortunately, eating while distracted is associated with anxiety, overeating, and weight gain.
For example, although socializing with friends and family during a meal can enhance an eating experience, talking on the phone or taking a work call while eating can detract from it.
Mindfulness practice develops the skills needed to be aware of and accept thoughts and emotions without judgment. It also distinguishes between emotional versus physical hunger cues. These skills can improve the ability to cope with the stressors that sometimes lead to emotional or binge eating.
It’s important to note that currently there is no standard for what defines mindful eating behavior, and there is no single recognized standard protocol for mindful eating.