In an age where we are all busier than ever, our eating experiences are often rushed occasions at our desks, in the car or watching TV. But is this really an enjoyable experience? If you are grazing on food without really tasting it, consistently eating until you are overly full or feel sick, are you making the most of your meal times?
Mindful eating aims to shift the focus from external thinking and distractions around food to exploring the eating experience. It involves being fully present while eating and paying attention to the food you are consuming using all of the senses (smelling, seeing, tasting, feeling, hearing).
Why is mindful eating important?
Employing a more mindful approach to eating can increase the enjoyment of meals, reduce overeating, improve your relationship with food, reduce anxious thoughts surrounding food and promote good digestion.
How to eat mindfully
Below are some tips to help you practice mindful eating:
- Prioritise mealtimes: To avoid being rushed, try and allocate ate least 15 minutes to sit down and enjoy each meal.
- Avoid distractions while eating: Remove all phones, laptops, TV, work and anything else that may tempt you while eating.
- Serve your food onto a plate or bowl: Portioning your food will ensure you savour your meal and avoid mindlessly overeating from the packet, takeaway container, ice cream tub etc.
- Always sit down to eat: Sitting down will encourage you to focus on your meal, rather than mindlessly snacking standing up or in front of the fridge.
- Take 3 deep breaths before you eat: Whatever you were doing before eating or wherever you were coming from, take the time to re-centre and slow down before starting your meal.
- Ask yourself how you feel about the food: Do you feel happiness, pleasure, regret, guilt, stress or disappointment? How do you feel before and after the meal? Do you feel satiated, energised or lethargic?
- Rest your cutlery between mouthfuls: Placing your cutlery next to your plate between mouthfuls encourages you to slow down and make a conscious effort to chew your food thoroughly.
- Engage your senses: Before eating, pay attention to the sight, smell and overall appeal of the food you are about to eat. While eating, identify the flavour, texture and feeling of the food.
- Eat until you are 80% full: Eating until you are satisfied but not overly full or feeling sick will help prevent overeating.
- Notice what foods make your mind and body feel good, and eat them more often: Fresh wholefoods will nourish your body and provide the nutrition needed for optimal functioning. When you eat better, you’ll feel better.
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