In a hectic world where many of us rush from one task to another, fitting in a quick meal while we think of what we have to do next has become the norm. When we’re not consciously focused on the food we are eating, we’re less likely to recognize the signals that tell us we are hungry or full or to experience the sensory satisfaction food brings. In fact, if we’re stressed, distracted or in a hurry, it’s easy to finish a meal and realize we haven’t even tasted a bite. Mindless eating is like eating on autopilot; it encourages overeating, undereating and guilt. Learning how to eat mindfully can help us have a better relationship with food and ultimately enjoy better physical and emotional health.
Mindful eating is the practice of paying attention to the food we eat so that we consume the amount our body needs to be nourished and satisfied. It helps us to explore our internal and external eating cues. Mindful eating is more about how rather than what we eat.
Here are some strategies to help you practice mindful eating:
- Eat at consistent and regular times, which helps you to listen to your body and recognize
- Be aware of your meal choices but avoid judgement or “good food/bad food” thoughts.
- Eat your meal in the kitchen or dining room rather than in front of your TV or computer.
- Slow down and pay attention to what you are eating by using all of your senses- sight, smell,
taste, touch and hearing.
- If you are a fast eater, aim for making a meal last 20 minutes. Put your fork or spoon down
between bites and chew slowly.
- Be in the present moment– focus on the act of eating rather than what you should have
done or what you plan to do next.
- Recognize and observe your thoughts during your meal or snack.
- Return your attention to the act of eating if your mind wanders.
- Learning how to eat mindfully takes practice but can help you learn to savour every bite.
- Pay Attention to how your body feels before, during and after your meal.
Here are some additional resources you may find helpful:
- Eating What you Love, Love What you Eat by Michelle May, MD
- Eating Mindfully: How to End Mindless Eating and Enjoy a Balanced Relationship with Food by Susan Albers, PsyD, and Lilian Cheung, DSc, RD
- Every Bit is Divine by Annie Kay, MS, RD, RYT
- Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works by Evely Tribole, MS, RD, and Elyse Resch, MS, RD, FADA
- Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food by Jan Chozen Bays, MD
- Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wanksink, PhD
- Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life by Thich Nhat Hanh and Lilian Cheung, DSc, RD
- Website: The Centre for MindfulEating