Regardless of age, it is important to pay attention to what one eats. Mindful eating helps us become aware of our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations, and mindful of our food choices and experience of eating; it is basically a form of meditation. Mindful eating helps one to achieve a balanced, respectful, healthy and joyful relationship with food and eating, and realize that when one is full, he or she does not need to eat more. The solution to mindless eating is not what we eat, but how we eat. When we pay attention to each bite of food we consume, then we are able to stop using food as a way to distract ourselves from uncomfortable emotions and it can help with weight loss and reduce binge eating.
The following steps are ways to practice mindful eating:
- Some people recommend taking slow, deep breaths before eating
- Focusing solely on the food one is eating without other distractions like the TV, phone, etc.
- Not being a speedy eater and chewing food thoroughly, which can reduce digestive problems.
- Putting the fork down half-way during the meal to check and see if one is still hungry
- Enjoying the food that one eats
- Eating with others at set times and places
- Eating foods that are nutritionally healthy vs. emotionally comfortable
- Considering where food comes from; connecting more deeply with the food that we eat.
Moreover, It is important to check in with one’s emotions when practicing mindfulness as a daily routine. For example, such as eating only when one is hungry and not eating just to be eating.. Am I responding to an emotional want or responding to my body’s needs should be the question we should think about before eating? One also needs to be centered and present throughout the day. Centering involves using a relaxed physical pose that sends a strong signal to the brain. Centering is an effective way to focus oneself and block out other distractions; even if it is only for a few minutes. When we are distracted, it is more difficult to listen to our body’s signals about food. We should slow down and listen to our bodies and do one thing at a time because we do live in a busy world filled with plenty of distractions. We should appreciate food, but at the same time, we should also eat to maintain overall health and well-being.
The Center for Mindful Eating , Health.com, and mindful.org are excellent resources for mindful eating.