If you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of time thinking about food, either reading (or creating) delicious recipes or thinking about what you’re going to eat next.
We spend so much time thinking about food that when it comes time to eat we often find ourselves focused on anything but our plate. How often have you been busy on your phone, watching tv, or at your computer while eating a meal?
When we eat we go into absorption mode, and our body and mind are ready to take in everything around us. We take in the stress of rushing to eat lunch while finishing a project at work, and the chaos of trying to eat and drive at the same time. On top of that, we are often so inattentive to what we're putting in our mouths that by the time it's over its if we almost forget it even happened, and we want to recreate the sensation by eating more.
Eating mindfully can make a world of difference, especially when it comes to losing weight. Here are 5 ways to apply mindful eating to help you get in tune with your body (and your plate).
1. Breathe and give thanks.
As you sit down to eat, take a moment to take a deep breath and center yourself. Give thanks, or set an intention for the meal. Are you eating a big healthy salad that will fuel you before a big workout? Or are you about to dig into a big satisfying bowl of pasta and want to savor every rich morsel? Either is fine, but allow yourself to be present enough to enjoy it!
2. Turn off the distractions.
When we eat, we go into absorption mode. Our entire body is focused on turning the food and nutrients we're eating into fuel for our cells. In today's busy world, the experience of receiving that energy often gets distorted by a host of distractions, from TV, to our smartphones and the internet. Use this time as a chance to really take in what you’re eating, so you don’t miss out on the whole thing! If you spend your entire meal distracted, you won’t even realize you just ate and you’ll go looking for more, repeating the same cycle over and over again.
3. Eat with your five senses.
Eating involves so much more than just taste. Take the time to pay attention to the look of your food, from the colours, textures, and shape of it. Breathe in the delicious smell of it before it even hits your lips, and savour the many tastes present in each bite. Be completely present and allow your whole body to be a part of the experience, savouring every taste, smell, sight, feel and even sound!
4. Stop when you're satisfied.
You’re more likely to overeat if you’re glued to the TV, but if you’re truly eating mindfully and in tune with your body, you’ll start to really know when to stop. Don’t feel like you need to clear your plate — your mouth is not a garbage disposal. Practice checking in every so often to assess your level of satisfaction. If you're still hungry, keep eating! If you're getting uncomfortably full, stop! The ideal stage to stop eating is when you're satisfied and could have another bite or two, but you know you don't really need it.
5. Keep a food journal.
Keeping track of your food is a great way to connect what you eat with how you feel. I always recommend my clients not only write down what they eat, but how they feel immediately after, as well as a an hour or two afterwards. Teaching yourself to become aware of these things is key to understanding what foods work for you, and which ones don't. For example, if your bowl of cereal for breakfast leaves you sluggish and cloudy by 10am, it may be an indication to switch things up. Keep in mind that with food journalling, it is not about counting calories or grams of anything. It's simply a tool to help you gain a deeper connection with yourself.
The key to making lasting changes is always to start with small, manageable steps, so if this whole list is daunting, pick one and go from there! Eating healthy and losing weight should be an enjoyable experience, and if it’s not, remember that the fear and negativity surrounding your meal will ultimately become absorbed back into your body. Allow yourself to break free from the cycle and be present enough to enjoy food again!