Learning how to eat mindfully is one of the best ways to help lose and maintain weight loss. Have you ever started to eat a big bag of chips and finished without noticing eating any chips? When we eat, we are often on auto-pilot, preventing us from savoring and really enjoying what we are eating. In other words, we eat unmindfully. This also leads to emotional eating, when we eat to alter our negative mood. We tend to look to foods, especially those high in sugar, fat, and salt content, to bring us a temporary sensation of calmness. Most often, however, this leads to physiological change that can increase your appetite even further.
Mindful eating is about eating with intentional awareness. This practice can be powerful in helping to reduce cravings and to develop a more healthy relationship with food. Below are five ways to incorporate mindful eating.
Savor-Notice and attempt to enjoy the texture, aroma, and flavor of each bite that you take.
Observe-Notice all the physical aspects of your food. Is it sweet, salty, savory, or spicy? You may take some time to observe your surroundings as well.
Stay in the Moment-See if you can just be in the moment with your food. Your mind may become distracted. If so, that’s okay, just gently escort your attention back to your meal. If you find that you are eating fast, try to slow down. Try taking one bite at a time and rest your utensils between bites.
Be Nonjudgmental-Your mind will often distract your eating experience with negative thoughts, such as “I have to have dessert.”, “This is not enough food for me. I must have more.”, “This diet will fail; therefore, I’m a failure.” When your mind engages in these destructive thoughts, just notice that this is what minds tend to do and focus your attention back on your meal. Just because your mind says it is true, it doesn’t mean that it’s reality. Remember that you are not your thoughts.
Express Gratitude-During your meal or when you are finished, you may want to express gratitude for your meal. Express thanks for all the hard work that people engaged in to bring this meal to your table. Be thankful for the animals, plants, and earth that provided this nutritious meal to you. If you grow food in a garden, you can appreciate expressing gratitude for your harvest. When eating with others, you may want to express gratitude for their presence.