Daily we are bombarded with decisions; on when to roll out of bed, what to eat for breakfast, how to respond to daily stress, what and how to eat lunch; the list goes on. Constantly connected to devices and other people, we often lose sight of what we ourselves need. So, what is mindful eating? Is eating mindfully simply eating slowly, or counting how many times you chew your food? is there something more to it? Eating mindfully is being aware of the food that you are eating and how it affects you.
If you are having trouble picturing mindful eating, think of the opposite. Mindless eating. For example; have you ever come home, opened the front door, dropped your bags on the floor, and raced to the kitchen, opening every cabinet in search of something quick to eat? You find yourself opening a bag of chips and snacking while continuing to look for more things to eat. Then without realizing, you reach in the bag and hit the bottom; you have eaten the whole bag. When this happens, you might not feel satisfied with your snack and continue to look for more to eat. In this example, you may not have enjoyed the smell, texture or even flavor of the food. Why? Because you were not aware you were eating it. This can lead to overeating and a lack of satisfaction with your meal. Other examples of mindless eating:
- Eating while watching TV
- Eating while working, answering e-mail, talking on the phone
- Snacking out of the box or bag while watching a movie
It is important to note, that mindful eating is not about dieting, or even the types of foods you eat. It is about recognizing what and how much of it your body needs. Can this type of awareness help to change your eating patterns and ultimately the type of foods you choose? Possibly. But that is for you to decide. Below are some tips on how to eat mindfully.
- Reduce distractions: Turn off the TV, put your phone down, and eat at the table.
- Be aware of your surroundings: Set the table, light candles, or simply keep it clear of clutter.
- Breathing: Sometimes closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths can help reduce distractions.
- Presentation is everything: Plate your food in an appealing way, or using beautiful dishes to showcase your food such as coconut bowls
- Portion control: If watching a movie and you are going to enjoy a snack, set a reasonable amount in a bowl or plate and put the rest away in the cabinet
- Use your senses:
Look at your food, notice the color and the amount on your plate.
- Taste: Though this goes with the other senses, really take the time to taste your food. Paying attention to the texture as well. Is your plate made up of more than one texture? Crunchy, soft, chewy…
Can you see a benefit of incorporating mindful eating into your daily life? Even
using a few of the above tips can make a big difference in your meal. Next time
you sit down for meal or a snack, I challenge you to try a few of these
About Kimberly Wisner
I am a dietitian and food blogger from Massachusetts. Most of the time you can find me dancing in the kitchen, and making my family and friends wait to eat as I capture food through my lens. My passions are traveling, seeing the world, and learning about different cultures. I believe in a balanced life, both in the food we eat and the work we do! Be inspired and get delicious recipes over on her blog Follow Your Plate.