How to practice Mindful Eating

We’ve all been there, that moment when your plate is empty, but you still feel ravenous and can barely remember what you ate because you woofed it down so quickly. Often times, our meals are crammed between busy schedules, or on the go, or are a product of our emotions. But what if we began to slow things down, connect with our food, feel how it nourishes our bodies?

With the holidays fast approaching, a time that is sometimes considered free-for-all or eat as much food as possible, I want to arm you with a few helpful practices that bring more mindfulness to your eating habits in lieu of eating mindlessly.

  1. Slow it down

    There is a delay between the information passed from our stomach to our brain, and often times, when we eat too quickly, our brain doesn’t know that we our full, even if our stomach is overloaded, this leads to overeating. How do we combat this? We slow down our eating! Two great methods to practice when new to this are: Setting a timer on your phone for how long you want to eat, which brings awareness to your speed and putting your fork down between bites, allowing you to chew your food fully and savor every bite. Try this at your next meal and I will bet you enjoy it more!

  2. Say bye-bye to distractions

    Eating while distracted can lead to overeating very quickly because our brains aren’t registering that we are actually eating. Turn off the tv, put the phone away, avoid eating in the car and focus on the food you are eating. Imagine where it came from, how it got to your plate, and appreciate the end result by savoring the flavors and nourishment it provides.

  3. Use the 2 minute rule

    Are you an emotional eater or do you find yourself digging around in the pantry when you are bored? This one is for you. Consider how you are feeling when you go to eat a snack or a meal. Are you truly hungry? Do you really want that cupcake? The next time you find yourself pining for a super decadent sweet or getting the munchies or digging around the pantry/fridge. Stop, and set a timer for 2 minutes, go and do something else, away from the kitchen. When the 2 minutes is up, evaluate whether you really are hungry- or are you bored, happy, sad, mad? Often times, when the 2 minutes is up, the urge to snack is gone.

  4. Pay attention to your food environment

    The environment in which you consume food is equally as important as the food itself. Do you keep a ton of snacks in your house? Well, you will likely eat them if they are there. Do you snack by reaching directly into the container? You will likely eat more than you would if you put your serving on plate. Do you eat standing/on the go/in the car? You likely aren’t registering that you’re even having a meal which leads to being hungry again soon after. Evaluate your food environment and then proactively make changes where necessary- toss the junk food at home, plan to sit down at your meals, use plates/forks/knives.

    Small changes reap big benefits.