What Is Mindful Eating?
Mindful Eating is about increasing your awareness and establishing a healthy relationship with food. It is about being in the moment with all your senses and being in control of food and beverages.
A foundation of mindfulness helps you place your complete attention on any experience that involves eating. It also enables you to understand the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger and helps you have a healthier response. In this article, we will go over more about mindful eating and how you can put it into practice in your life.
Practicing Mindful Eating
For many people, eating happens while doing something else whether it’s while watching tv, looking at your devices, or while being on the go. As a society, eating has become quick and mindless. Changing this habit and practicing mindful eating will take some practice and patience. The more you practice, the more natural it will become over time. Here are some ways you can start practicing mindful eating:
Startsmall and work your way up
Beginwith one meal a day for a five-to-ten-minute time period and take your time with your meal without rushing. You can work your way up to more but try to practice every day. It is normal to not be able to do this every time you eat, but the goal is to do it as much as possible.
Incorporate full awareness.
Eliminate distractions when you’re shopping for food, preparing food, and eating food. Look at each piece of food and consider the nutrients. Pay attention to how your body feels and what thoughts or distractions are interfering with the moment.
Pay attention to the type of hunger you’re feeling.
Are you smelling something delicious and it’s making you crave it? Have you skipped eating for so long that you’re feeling heightened sensations of hunger? Are you feeling sadness or boredom and it’s making you turn to food? Are you continuing to eat even after you’re full?
Connect with your senses.
Pay attention to how the food smells, what it feels like, how it looks, the texture, and the sounds it makes when savoring each bite. Within each bite, try to identify each individual ingredient by taste or texture.Appreciate all that it is and all that it is providing for you.
Pay attention to your body sensations and cues as you eat.
Along with noticing how your five senses are at play while you are eating, try to pay attention to your body cues. Notice increased salivation right before you take a bite. Notice the rate at which you chew your food. Pay attention to your urge to swallow your food, and as you progress through your meal how your hunger sensations change in your body. All of these may feel unnatural, or a little silly, but you will eventually feel more connected to your body and grow in appreciation for how food fuels us.
Take your time.
Notice if you’re rushing yourself. Notice if you’re chewing quickly and give yourself permission to slow down. One trick is to put the food or utensils down in between each bite.
Mindful Eating is Not A Diet
Mindful eating is more about increasing your awareness of your relationship with food. Eating has a direct impact on how we feel mentally, emotionally, and physically in our bodies. You will learn what foods make you feel tired, bloated, depressed, or drained. And you will notice what foods make you feel energized, nurtured, and happy. Having this heightened awareness will naturally push you towards healthier choices.
The term “diet” itself has a connotation to it that will subconsciously create a negative relationship with food. Culturally, there’s a lot of pressure around dieting that leads to false expectations. With mindful eating, you are removing feelings of guilt, shame, judgment, or anxiety. Your focus is on your relationship with food, your presence with food, and the direct correlation with how you feel (before during, and after)
Need Help Getting Started With Mindful Eating?
We have therapists at Elliott Counseling Group who are trained in the practice of mindfulness who can help you start, continue, and strengthen mindful eating and your relationship with food. In addition, we have dedicated nurse practitioners who can create nutrition programs and recommendations to help you accomplish mindful eating.
About the Contributor
Proofed and Verified by: Erica Aina, LCSW
Erica is the Clinical Supervisor and one of many therapists at Elliott Counseling Group. As the Clinical Supervisor she supports clinical growth, oversees protocols, and provides mentorship, monitoring, support, and supervision to therapists. As a therapist, she specializes in trauma work, depression, children/teen issues, and crisis management.
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