In our fast-paced society, it’s so easy to lose our connection with ourselves. Our crazy busy schedules, short lunch breaks and interruptions of technology do not help in that regard and we learned to become wonderful multitaskers. We have also learned to do so many activities in an ‘autopilot’ mode. Driving, walking, certain types of jobs, folding the laundry, taking a shower or eating are things we do so often that we tend to do them in a habitual and mindless manner day in and day out. Today, I would like to focus on eating and how you could bring more mindfulness to such an important act. I would like to share 12 mindful eating tips that will transform your relationship with food but first let’s talk about the consequences of not eating mindfully.
What are the consequences of not eating mindfully?
- It is difficult to listen to your body’s cues of hunger and fullness
- Overeating happens easily when you don’t pay attention to the food you eat
- It is difficult to listen to what your body needs, this brings me to the next point
- It is difficult to make the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger. When you don’t pay attention both hungers can be mixed up. Is your body really hungry for food? Or is it hungry for something else?
- It is easy to be stuck in a spiral of mindless eating/overeating/weight gain/guilt…
- It can develop into painful eating disorders
What are mindfulness and mindful eating?
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present to our lives in this very moment. Mindfulness is precisely what allows us to break the autopilot patterns to be able to make a change.
Mindful eating is the act of being fully present to what you eat. I noticed in my practice that everyone is more excited about practicing mindful eating than mindful walking or driving. The act of eating is so enjoyable in the first place so it is always a great start before bringing more mindfulness to other areas of your life.
Practicing mindful eating will tell you a lot about your habitual patterns connected with food and eating. And this is the first step to be able to transform your relationship with food.
How do I practice mindful eating and where do I start?
Here are 12 mindful eating tips that will transform your relationship with food.
- Remove all worldly distractions such as cellphone, TV, tablet, everything that beeps. Let eating be the only thing on your mind. If you notice other thoughts and feelings arising, that is ok, just notice those and allow them to pass like if they were floating in the air. As soon as they passed, bring back your focus to the act of eating.
- Sit at a table. This may sound obvious but it is not for everyone. It is quite impossible to practice mindful eating if you are multi-tasking. Avoid TV dinners, eating while working, eating on the run, … This doesn’t mean you have to be all alone and eat in silence, you can enjoy a wonderful meal mindfully while having pleasant conversations with friends.
- Take a moment before eating. Don’t rush, just take the time to notice the food you are going to eat, the visual appeal, the colors, the shapes, notice the aroma, notice your mouth watering. This moment is important to help your awareness open up so you are more present to the act of eating.
- During the entire experience, pay attention to how your body feels. Take some breaks to check how your body feels. Ask yourself the following questions: How does my body feel? Do I feel a little fuller at each bite? Do I feel satisfied? Am I still hungry? Do I want more? Is it time to stop eating? Will I lose the feeling of lightness if I continue to eat?
- Slow down when you eat. Pay attention to you and only you. Slowing down when you eat gives your brain time to catch up with your belly in letting you know when to stop. I want to correct a misconception. You don’t have to do something slowly to do it mindfully but if you are new to mindful eating, this is a good way to start. I promise you it becomes second nature when you practice mindful eating on a regular basis. You won’t even have to think about it anymore.
- Take your time to chew. While most mindful eating blogs and books suggest to chew 30 times before swallowing, I do realize it is pretty difficult and not always very realistic ;-). The rule I really like is “Drink your solids and chew your liquids”. Chewing is very important, it boosts pleasure while eating and increases signals of fullness.
- Be a food critic. That is fun. Imagine you have to write an article about your meal in a gourmet magazine. Eat slowly and be careful to every little texture and flavor that arise while eating.
- Put down your utensils. This is an easy tip that will help you to slow down. If this sounds weird to you, it means you were not doing it and you are not alone! Most of us take a bite and then immediately prepare the next bite as we are chewing the original bite. This is kinda multi-tasking, right? Let’s try to unlearn this and practice mindful eating by putting down your utensils.
- Engage your 5 senses in the experience. Is your brain focused? Do your eyes notice the colors? Do your ears hear the sound of the food and the utensils? Does your nose smell the aromas? Does your mouth notice all the different tastes? How do your back and whole body feel?
- Take moments to breathe. Take some pauses while you eat and breath. Oxygen is a powerful digestive metabolizer. It boosts digestion, nutrients absorption, and calorie burning,
- Be grateful. That is a powerful one! Take a moment to be thankful for all the people who were involved in the food you are eating. Can you imagine how many people were involved in that food? When you think about it, it is totally astonishing! You would be surprised at all the physical and psychological benefits of gratitude. I studied all those deeply when I was creating the Happy Spoon program. I really suggest you dive deeper into this, it is fascinating.
- Take a minute of silence after you are done eating. Don’t try to rush to the next big activity on your mind after you are done. Allow yourself a minute in silence to truly appreciate the act itself.
Mindful eating is simpler than you think!
It might seem like a lot to remember in the beginning but trust me, it will quickly become very natural. All those mindful eating tips transformed my relationship with food and I trust they will transform yours as well. If you have a hard time stopping when you are full, this will definitely help you to reconnect to your hunger and fullness cues and bring greater peace and happiness in your relationship with food.
If you need help to practice mindful eating and transform your relationship with food, I invite to check both my programs:
- My “Get over overeating and emotional eating” 5-day FREE course. Those 5 Days will Set You Up on the Road to Food Freedom. Learn the essential tools to start your journey to transforming your relationship with food.
- The Happy spoon 30-day program that will help you to gain back your power over food and your life!