Mindful eating is the practice of acquiring a deeper awareness of how the food we consume influences our holistic being. Rather than intaking food passively, mindful eating focuses on helping us gain a deeper understanding of our relationship with food.
Over the years, mindful eating has grown in its popularity because of its observed benefits. Reduced stress levels, easier digestion, weight loss, and enhanced emotional control are all advantages of mindful eating. In spite of its rise in approval and surplus of biological rewards, we know what you are thinking… Who has time to tediously savor each bite of food?
When some people think of mindful eating, their first thought gravitates towards an individual with no care or responsibilities. But, in reality, that is not the case. Mindful eating is a practice of consciousness that allows you to be in touch with the reasoning behind your desire for food. If you’ve ever mindlessly eaten a bag of chips, stuffed your face with junk food after a breakup, or even consume food when you don’t feel hungry, mindful eating is for you.
Don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Here are four steps to start practicing mindful eating today.
1. Ask yourself, “Why Am I Eating?” To ask yourself why you are eating sounds like a silly question. Instinctively, humans are programmed to eat to survive. Nowadays, survival is not the primary stimulus for consuming food. In reality, most of us fall between the spectrum of the phrases “living to eat” vs. “eating to live.” While biological hunger contributes to eating, so does perceived hunger. Conversely, perceive hunger is stimulated by a combination of factors, including biological hunger, emotions, and situations. Keeping mindful eating in mind, before you even put food on your plate, diving into the why behind your hunger helps you differentiate between actual hunger vs. perceived hunger. With that said, using this initial step can help cut down on unnecessary eating, which leads to healthier bodily functions. May I request to have a Click on mindful eating ideas for more information on this topic.
2. Focus, Don’t Multitask. Focus on one task at a time. Today’s fast-paced society prides itself on completing a series of tasks at once. While this is an arguably efficient way to check items off one’s to-do list when it comes to food, this habit is not valuable. Since our brain can only focus on one thing at a time when you try to complete more than one, it subsequently lowers your ability to perform both tasks successfully. That is to say, if you happen to be on your phone while eating, your brain is not able to adequately complete both jobs to the best of its ability. Thus, what happens is you end up just focusing on your phone while passively stuffing your face. On the flip side, mindful eating forces you to focus on the complexity of what you’re eating. You may want to ask yourself: Does this taste good? Or, What texture is this food item?
3. Slow Down… Eating is not a race. Too often, we treat our meal times (i.e., breakfast, lunch, and dinner) as burdens that impede our ability to work non-stop. Therefore, when many of us eat, we try to get it done as quickly as possible, thus stuffing our faces. If we are going to practice mindful eating, we have to switch it up. Let’s begin to treat eating like a flavorful marathon, rather than a race that we are trying to finish as quickly as possible. By slowing down our eating process, we have the chance to truly enjoy our meal and become more aware of our own satiety.
4. Stop Halfway. The final step of practicing mindfulness with eating is to stop halfway through our meal. As children, many of us were instructed to finish what was on our plate. Nonetheless, as adults, this practice is something we should shift away from. Listening to your body requires that you ask questions. So halfway through your course, ask yourself, “Am I hungry, or am I just eating to eat?” Depending on your answer, you might continue or stop eating, but regardless of the process of asking the question makes you view eating as a conscious act.
Mindful eating has a series of benefits. Besides, instilling an added sense of awareness, it also helps us create a healthy sense of self. Starting does not have to be complicated. By following the four easy steps previously listed steps, you’ll be an expert in this practice in no time.