Mindful eating. To some, that may seem like a loaded phrase, filled with chants and meditation, but mindfulness is actually pretty simple. We’re here to break down the who, what, where, why, and how of eating mindfully so that you can incorporate it in your everyday life.

Mindful Eating is the practice of eating mindfully.  I know, you probably could have gathered that on your own, but let’s think about what that truly means.  It means to be conscientious, focused, in-tune, and truly savor the experience of eating. Mindful eating can help you appreciate the tastes, textures, smells, sensations, and nutrients of foods. This practice creates a celebration of eating. Research has also shown that practicing mindful eating can help individuals avoid overeating through focusing on hunger and fullness cues.  In turn, mindful eating can also lead to weight loss or weight maintenance.

Think of it this way.  You have a bag of potato chips and you crash down on the couch after a long day and flip on the television.  You start eating one chip and then the next and the next and suddenly the entire bag is gone.  It’s as if you were eating on autopilot without any thought of that chip after chip.  This is what mindless eating looks like.

Now let’s do that over again, but this time practicing mindful eating.  You have a bag of potato chips, but this time you sit down at the counter, free of television, computer, radio, newspaper, or any other distractions.  Take notice of the small rumbling of your stomach as you open the bag of chips.  You pour a few chips into a small bowl and grab the first one.  You can feel that the texture is rough, lightweight, and notice the bit of grease on your fingers and grains of salt on the surface.  Then you place the chip in your mouth and you are aware of the salty taste and the crisp crunch as you bite down.  As you continue to eat ten chips, you realize that the craving is gone.  You don’t feel the need to finish off the bowl. You have enjoyed your ten chips and have fed that craving.  Mindful eating employs full awareness of the eating experience.  

Some tips to begin practicing mindful eating are to:

– Eliminate distractions by turning off ipads, tablets, radio, T.V., computer, phone, and even books and magazines.  Focus on eating.

– Eat slowly.  Some people find it helpful to count the number bites as they chew.

– Breathe deeply before meals.  Try taking 5-10 long breaths before diving in.

– Offer gratitude for your meal and thankfulness for the meal at hand.

– Use all of your five senses when enjoying food.

– Take notice to everything.

– Be non-judgmental.  Speak mindfully and compassionately.  Avoid feelings of guilt or rigid rules of eating.

Try some of these tips the next time you sit down to eat a meal.  Notice if you are feeling hungry.  Be aware if you are feeling full and stop eating once you notice this cue. Notice tastes and textures. Mindful eating can help you decode your body’s cues without those unnecessary feelings of guilt or shame.

My favorite mindful eating tool is using my senses when I eat. I try to take note of the taste, the smells, the textures, the sounds, and any other fun sensations.  Eating is meant to be enjoyed! What mindful eating aspects will you try to incorporate? Let us know in the comments below!

This post was originally published on Food Heaven Made Easy.