You have probably heard of the benefits of mindful eating, but you may be wondering how to practice mindful eating.
The mindful eating movement has recently taken the health, wellness, and nutrition sectors by storm. Based on how successful our members have been after using mindful eating, I’m here to say that is for good reason too!
If you’re looking to learn how to practice mindful eating in a realistic and sustainable way, you’ve come to the right place.
Why it is important to practice mindful eating
When you hear mindful eating, you can imagine yourself chewing your food really slowly or meditating before you eat it.
While it can look like this if you like, it doesn’t really capture the essence of mindful eating.
The purpose of mindful eating is to help you be in tune with your body and your eating experience so that you can make conscious food choices based on what your body needs, what you want, and the right level of balance between both.
Mindful eating is about putting the focus back on your mealtime experience. It’s a way to eat in a present, thoughtful way to promote a balanced and nutritious diet.
When first hearing about mindful eating, it can sound a little frivolous. I’ve had a few new customers asking something like, “Does mindful eating really make a difference?” I promise it.
Research has shown that mindful eating can help with numerous food and diet-related ailments. For example, it can help manage disrupted eating habits and help individuals achieve weight-related goals as well (1).
Practice mindful eating in 10 ways
Read on to learn my top 10 ways to start mindful eating today.
1. Eat without distractions
That means no telephones, no televisions, no computers and no work. Sounds pretty strange, doesn’t it? Distracted eating is so common these days. It’s part of our culture!
When we remove all of the noise and hustle and bustle that comes with eating, we’re really just eating. This allows you to be more present and mindful as you feed.
2. Eat at one table
Where do you eat most often? Did you notice how this affects your food choices? Where you eat can affect how much you eat, how satisfied you feel afterwards, and your digestion.
Try to eat most of your meals and snacks around one table and notice how much more your food can experience and connect with your body and the effects on your eating habits.
3. Slow it down
The faster we do something, the more efficient it is, right? Well, not when it comes to eating.
When we are fast-forwarding food, it is almost impossible to practice mindfulness.
When eating mindfully, it is important to slow down the pace of eating. Pause or take a deep breath between bites, then chew and swallow completely before taking the next bite. Slowing down your eating not only helps you be more present, it also promotes satiety and optimal digestion.
4. Don’t forget to breathe
Stop and take a breath!
This is one of my favorite recommendations for customers. Simply pausing for 30 seconds to take deep breaths before you eat can increase your mindfulness significantly.
A deep breath can even activate the parasympathetic nervous system to let your body know that you are in a state of relaxation. You don’t have to stress yourself and fly through the meal.
This simple exercise can help you be more present as you eat, which will help you become more aware of what you are eating, why you are eating, what your signs of hunger are, and using your senses to enjoy the food you are about to eat want to eat.
That alone can give you so many little insights into your eating habits and help you find the best for you and your body.
5. Think about food as you eat
Sounds easy right? Still, it’s not very common.
When we think about what we will have in front of us later that day, what we will eat at our next meal, and the stressful conversations we had earlier that day, there is no chance that we will eat mindfully.
Before you know it, the food is over and you barely tasted it!
Take a moment to pause and experience your food. How does it taste? How does it look like? What do you like about that? What could you change the next time you eat?
By actively thinking about your meal, you can practice mindful eating.
6. Prepare your own meals
I am not saying that you should only eat meals that you have prepared at home, this is not realistic. Who doesn’t love a delicious meal?
But what I’m saying is that you prepare your own meals if you can. When you spend time cooking, chopping, sautéing, smelling, and watching your food put together, you are essentially being forced to be mindful. It makes you want to eat.
Mindfulness has to do with presence. It’s about awareness and intentionality. Cooking food is a wonderful way to do this!
7. Be prepared for your hunger and satiety signals
We talk about it a lot because it matters. To practice mindful eating, we need to listen to our bodies.
Take a moment and take a break before you eat, how hungry are you? Do you then feel full after eating?
Ignoring hunger and satiety cues is one of the most common ways to eat thoughtlessly. This generally happens when we eat on a schedule or limit portion sizes due to diet, detox, or cleansing.
Listening to hunger and satiety will help you keep serving sizes better and increase the feeling of satiety and satiety at the end of the meal.
8. Check-in with the reason for the meal
If we don’t eat consciously, we may be eating because of factors unrelated to hunger. Some of the most common factors are stress, emotions, and environmental influences.
By checking in to yourself before meals, you can ensure that you are really eating because you want to eat, not to avoid stress or anxiety.
When you are feeling these emotions, you can address them appropriately instead of relying on food.
9. Practice gratitude and appreciation
When we appreciate what we eat and everything that goes into the meal, we are more mindful and present in the moment of eating.
Think about what it took to prepare your meal, how good it tasted, how grateful you are for a meal like this.
All of this brings focus and attention to the dining experience in a positive, mindful way.
10. Chew thoroughly
While simple, it can make a world of difference in the mindful eating context!
If we don’t chew our food thoroughly, we won’t have time to be present during the eating experience. In addition, we are left with poorly digested food, which can also distract from eating time.
The next time you sit down for a meal, actively think about chewing and I bet you will slow down a little!
11. Listen to your individual wants, likes and dislikes
Eat what you really want when you want it.
We don’t want to eat because we feel like we should or shouldn’t be eating.
The better you are in harmony with your individual wishes, likes and dislikes, the more present and mindful you can be when eating.
Food should be experienced and enjoyed, it is not a chore!
Practice mindful eating today
If you are new to mindful eating and want to start today, I recommend that you don’t try all of these at once.
These 10 mindful eating ways are all wonderful, but start by choosing just one or two. That way, instead of overwhelming them, you can incorporate these new habits with ease.
Once your new habits feel a little like second nature, as if they were ingrained into your daily routines, you can add an extra habit or two.
Continue in this way until you have created your own custom mindful eating practice!
Mindful feeding method
Mindful eating has helped countless Nutrition Stripped members achieve balanced and sustainable eating habits.
Our method teaches them to develop these mindful habits with ease and not with effort, with joy instead of dissatisfaction.
You can begin your journey to balanced eating habits today by joining the Mindful Nutrition Method today.