9 Tips for Mindful Eating and Eating Awareness
Mindful eating involves paying attention to what and how you are eating without judgments. This process can help us become aware of the reasons behind our hunger (i.e.: is this true physiological hunger or hedonic hunger (I’m eating due to emotional, conditioned, or traditional reasons).
Taking time for the eating experience can help us to reduce cravings, control our portion sizes, and enhance our interconnectedness with the flow of people, animals, and nature that contributed to the food on our plate. Mindful eating helps us to become more aware of our natural hunger and satiety cues.
Here are some tips to enhance your eating experience to make it a deeper healing process
- Preparing and cooking your food mindfully is important. Pay attentions to the sights, smells and the texture/ feeling of the food you are preparing. If you are eating at a restaurant pay attention to the smell and sight of your food.
- Eat in a setting where you feel relaxed. If you are eating in the car, in front of a computer doing work, or on the phone, you are not able to give full attention to eating, and, as a result, you may tend to eat more or eat foods that are not healing.
- If you are feeling emotional and are tending towards eating, see if you can first acknowledge and express your emotions rather than eating them. These practices will all help with the digestive process – helping you to get the most out of food. Put away all your electronics and set aside time and space for eating only.
- Sit down and take a few deep breaths before starting your meal. If you wish, you can say a prayer or give thanks for the food in front of you. You can express gratitude for all the people who were involved with growing and making your food, including yourself.
- Eat a palette of colors. Many people eat a “brown, yellow, and white diet”. Instead of lackluster, bland eating, try to sample all the colors of food, including red, orange, yellow, green, and purple, to ensure that you get a variety of nutrients and your plate is visually appealing.
- Eat with others. Eating is a communal event, a social occasion. The act of sharing food with others can be enriching for everyone involved and may help you with focusing on the people than on the amount of food eaten. If you are eating alone, note to yourself how the food tastes when you chew slowly and savor it.
- Sample a variety of flavors and take in the food with all your senses. When we don’t eat all of the variety of flavors at a meal – salty, sweet, bitter, pungent, and umami/savory – we may come away from the meal feeling like we are “missing something,” and ultimately, food cravings can result. By getting small amounts of all the flavors of food, a practice common in other cultures such as in Asia, we may feel more fulfilled and desire less food after a meal. What does the food look like? Is it appealing? What does the food smell like? How does the food feel in your hands or mouth? What’s the texture like? Chew slowly and try to identify the ingredients and flavors.
- Chew thoroughly. The process of digestion begins in the mouth where enzymes are secreted in saliva to break down food. If we do not properly chew and make our food morsels smaller, we may be subject to indigestion and other digestive problems. The act of eating allows us to be mindful, and in the moment, of our exchange of energy with foods.
- Listen to your body. Recognize when you have had enough to eat or when you want more. Engaging in conversation and waiting five minutes before getting another serving can also help your body become more attuned to hunger and fullness cues.
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Blog Author: Carolina Cartier, Certified Nutritionist at Vida Integrated Health Kirkland. Carolina is accepting new Telemedicine and In person visits. In network with most major insurance.
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