Now more than ever before, we need to take a deep breath, connect back with our body’s own innate intelligence and become curious when it comes to food and eating.
And we can do this through Mindful Eating.
Firstly, let’s look at mindless eating for a moment. What does that look like, or feel like?
Mindless eating is essentially the opposite or mindful eating. It’s being completely unaware of how much you’re eating, what’s in the food and your reasoning for eating it. It’s reaching for the second (or third) cookie, only to realise the packet is empty and wondering where they’ve all gone?
Or to suddenly finish eating only to realise that you were too busy scrolling Instagram to remember eating it. Most people can probably relate to this. We’re all human and we’ve all done it.
Mindful Eating is about being present and fully aware of your senses, hunger and satiety cues and acknowledging your responses to food and eating, both emotionally and physically.
It’s simply acknowledging the many sensations and thought responses that come up as we eat. However, this applies to more than the act of eating itself. It’s incorporating mindfulness principles into the entire food experience, and all of the bites in between.
When we are aware of our thoughts and behaviours around food and eating, we can ultimately influence what goes into our mouths, how much we eat and how we feel afterwards, both physically and emotionally. As a result we get more satisfaction and nourishment from our food, transform our relationships with food and find freedom and a greater sense of control.
The practice adopts the principles of mindfulness and applies them to every aspect of food and eating; from food selection, cooking, to the act of eating itself.
We can then take things one step further and recognise the emotions and physical sensations that come up during and after the eating experience, in a state of calm, without holding judgement.
We also become aware of what drives our hunger and decisions around food and food choices. Do we eat for pleasure or are we stressed? Is it physical hunger, or are we bored? Asking questions and making the distinction can dramatically influence our food choices in that given moment, which can have a vast impact on our mood, energy levels and productivity for the rest of the day.
Now that you’ve got an understanding about what mindful eating is and the importance of practicing it on a daily basis, let’s lay out some simple guidelines techniques so you how can start incorporating mindful eating into your life:
- Make time to sit down and unplug – Instead of watching television, scrolling social media, texting or talking on the phone. Step away from technology and eat at the table and focus your attention and awareness on the meal.
- Take your time – Eat slowly and chew your food well. Avoid eating on the run and really try to slow down and chew your food well. This optimises digestion and will help your body respond to natural satiety cues.
- Engage all of your five senses – Mindful eating is a pleasurable, sensory experience. Take time to notice and feel all of the aromas, textures, sounds, flavours and colours of the food in front of you. This allows you to be present in the moment, and get the most enjoyment and pleasure out of your food.
- Ask yourself, “Am I actually physically hungry?” – If you’re a mindless snacker or tend to eat for boredom or out of habit, take a moment to connect with your body and ask yourself if it’s physical hunger you’re really So often we think we’re hungry, when in fact we may just need a glass of water, a few deep breaths or a quick ten minute break outside in the sunshine. Sit with your feelings and ask yourself what you really need in that moment.
- Download the Smiling Mind app and get meditating! – Mindfulness meditation is a great way to calm the mind when you’re feeling anxious, stressed, depressed or triggered. We can feel extremely vulnerable during these states and often turn to food as a way to medicate or comfort ourselves. Mindfulness meditation is an effective way to find a sense of calm, clarity and contentment. Smiling Mind is a free tool and can be used on your smartphone anything, anywhere.