Importance of Mindful Eating
Research shows that mindful eating may help people to prevent binge eating and overconsumption, while enjoying food in a healthy and positive way. Mindful eating, also known as conscious eating allows us to feel more in touch with the body’s internal hunger and satiety signals. Many of us may not be aware of the reasons we engage in mindless eating.
Some common contributors can be:
- Not recognising the difference between hungry and non-hungry eating;
- Not stopping to listen to your body signals, such as feelings of satiety
- Confusing thirst with hunger
- Allowing yourself to get too hungry and/or eating too fast
- Eating an amount that should make you feel full, but not feeling satisfied
- Eating in case you get hungry at a later stage
- Eating in response to emotions
- Eating to satisfy a state of mind such as boredom or tiredness.
The mindful eating approach employs strategies to encourage awareness of your senses while eating to bring you into the present moment.
These mindful eating practices or strategies include:
- Keeping a mindful eating journal
- Slowing down while eating
- Focusing on eating (not watching television or reading),
- Mindful food shopping and food preparation.
Mindful eating techniques
Mindful eating techniques can help to reduce the likelihood of binge eating. These include:
- Eating small or moderate amounts of food every 2-3 hours (you could try 6 smaller meals rather than 3 larger meals).
- Before eating ask yourself a few basic questions
- Am I hungry?
- Am I thirsty?
- If so, what type of food/drink do I need?
- Present your food in an appealing way, following a healthy plate guide. Do not eat standing or walking!
- Bringing yourself to the present moment (3 deep breaths) before beginning to eat.
- Eat slowly, paying attention to the smell, taste, sound, texture and look of the food.
- Put utensils or food down between mouthfuls. Give your stomach time to register the food.
- Every few minutes check in with your hunger signals
- Stop eating just before you feel full. Wait 10-20 minutes. If you are still hungry you can then eat more food.
- Enjoy your meal. If you don’t enjoy eating you will never be satisfied.
A good rule of thumb to follow is 3 meals and 2 snacks each day. Eating regularly maintains stable blood sugar levels and prevents you from becoming really hungry and over eating later.