Mindful Eating - this is probably not the first time you’re seeing this phrase. But what is mindful eating? Mindful eating is a powerful tool to gain control over your eating habits. By focusing on the present moment and being aware of your senses while eating, you can manage unhealthy eating habits, improve your outlook, and feel better about yourself.
According to Joseph B. Nelson, “mindful eating encourages us to gain awareness of our eating experiences” rather than eat in a mindless fashion as society tends to lean towards in the fast-paced, high-stress era we have entered. With a mindful approach, the individual focuses on appreciating the experience of food and is not concerned with restricting intake. Focus is not placed on calories, carbohydrates, fat, or protein. The person eating chooses what and how much to consume. The purpose of mindful eating is not to lose weight, though weight loss is possible. The intention is in helping individuals savor the moment, the food and encourage their true presence during their eating experience.
To practice using all of your senses with each bite, take a single raisin, nut, grape or berry and grab a journal to write your comments down.
➢ Sight: Examine the item in your hand, what do you see?
➢ Touch: How does it feel in your hand? What is the texture like?
➢ Smell: Inhale through your nose, what do you smell?
➢ Hearing: Roll the item back and forth between your fingers near your ear, what do you hear?
➢ Taste: Place the item on your tongue and after slowly moving it around, chew slowly and pay attention to any sensations or feelings that arise.
Eating mindfully begins with the first thought about food and lasts until the final bite is swallowed. Try one meal a day to start using a few of the tips below and enjoy your meals with a better mindset and intent.
Grab a notebook and pen to make yourself some notes too!
Investigate your actual hunger level - before you get food.
➢ Notice your mood and the feelings you are currently experiencing.
➢ Take a few deep breaths and ask yourself, "Am I really hungry?".
➢ Rate your hunger between 1 to 10.
➢ What would satisfy your hunger?
➢ Would it be warm or cold?
➢ What colors, smells, flavors, and textures are you craving?
➢ Consider what it took to produce your meal, from the sun's rays to the farmer to the grocer to the cook.
➢ Did this food have to travel a long distance to reach your plate?
➢ What went into growing your food and how long did it take?
➢ Set a timer to allow 20 minutes to eat your meal.
➢ Before starting, use your senses to bring yourself to the present moment.
➢ Try using your non-dominant hand.
➢ Put your fork or spoon down in between bites and take a breath before picking up the utensil again.
➢ Take small bites and chew well.
➢ No phone at the table!
➢ Don’t eat while using your computer or reading a book/magazine.
➢ Keep the TV off during mealtimes.
Think about the textures of your food.
➢ How does it feel in your mouth?
➢ Is there more than 1 texture?
➢ How warm or cold is the food?
➢ Is it easy to bite into and chew?
Focus on each flavor.
➢ What flavors do you taste?
➢ Is it salty or sweet?
➢ Does the taste change as you chew it or is there an aftertaste?
➢ What do you or don’t you like?
Use your eyes.
➢ Does the meal look good?
➢ What colors are present on your plate?
➢ What are the components of your meal?
Use your nose.
➢ What flavors do you smell?
➢ Does the smell make you hungry?
➢ Is it one smell overpowering or can you pick out individual scents?
➢ Would you still eat the meal if you could only smell it and not see it?
Be aware of your emotions - avoid emotional eating.
➢ Does this meal bring forth any positive or negative emotions?
➢ Why do you think they’re coming up in relation to this meal?
➢ Are you eating because you’re feeling sad, angry or stressed?
Understand your food triggers.
➢ What situations arise that trigger your hunger?
➢ What feelings do these situations bring forth?
➢ Look closer at the situation, were you actually hungry or eating for some other reason (low blood sugar, hormonal changes, stomach emptiness, or other)?
Figure out your satisfaction scale.
➢ Was your first bite more satisfying than the second?
➢ How did the taste of the food change after your first bite?
➢ Were you satisfied after a few bites or did you finish the entire portion?
No one should expected to implement mindful eating at every meal, but starting to practice mindful eating with one meal each day is a great introduction and way to build healthier eating habits.
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Joseph B Nelson - Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat, Aug 2017 https://spectrum.diabetesjournals.org/content/30/3/171