Mindful eating is a buzzword in the health and wellness industry. It's a simple concept that involves paying attention to the experience of eating, rather than just the food.
By adopting mindfulness techniques for your eating habits, you may experience improved digestion, better energy regulation, and manage your weight better.
In this article, we delve into the world of mindful eating and uncover its benefits, tips to get started, and answer some frequently asked questions.
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is a type of mindfulness practice that requires you to be fully present while eating. It's about paying attention to the taste, texture, and smell of the food, as well as the physical sensations in your body.
The ultimate goal of mindful eating is to develop a deeper awareness of your body and its needs, resulting in healthier food choices and reduced overeating.
Samantha woke up to a beautiful morning, and she knew it was going to be a long day ahead. She had to attend a work meeting that would last for the entire day, followed by a dinner with colleagues.
As soon as she got up, she rushed to the kitchen to grab a quick breakfast. She quickly finished her toast and rushed to work.
The meeting was stressful, and Samantha found herself feeling anxious and uncomfortable. During the breaks, she went to the refreshment table and started to munch on the snacks, hoping it would make her feel better. She ate a lot, but she didn't even realize how much she had consumed.
The same thing happened during dinner. She felt nervous around her colleagues, and she kept eating to distract herself from her discomfort. By the end of the night, she was feeling bloated and guilty.
She knew that she had consumed too much food and that it was going to take a toll on her health and weight. So, Samantha reached out to google and came across the concept of mindful eating.
The Benefits of Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is more than the contents you put into your body, or the portion size. It is about eating with intention, slowing down, and expressing gratitude for the fuel you are receiving.
- Better Digestion: By paying attention to the physical sensations in your body, you can aid digestion and enhance the digestive process.
- Healthy Eating Habits: Mindful eating helps you make healthier food choices and avoid overeating.
- Reduced Stress: Mindful eating promotes relaxation and reduces stress and anxiety.
- Increased Satisfaction: By paying attention to the experience of eating, you can increase your enjoyment of food and reduce the likelihood of overeating.
- Better Weight Management: By making healthier food choices and avoiding overeating, you can better manage your weight and achieve wellness goals.
One of my favorite benefits of eating mindfully is that doing so with intention means I care more about the flavor. I always spruce up my food with delicious spices, and that makes the process of preparing my food more mindful as well.
6 Mindful Eating Tips
- Eliminate Distractions: Turn off your phone and any other devices that might distract you while eating. Allow yourself the permission to accept this challenge and not be glued to the outside world. This will help you tune in to yourself and be present in the moment with your food you are fueling your body with.
- Check in with your Body: Before you dive into the fridge or cabinet grabbing your next binge snack ask yourself why you are eating. Are you eating because you are truly hungry, are you bored? Are you emotional? Once you determine what that reason is and let's say you are emotional binge eating, ask yourself what you truly want in that moment to fill the void you are experience. It is sleep, some one to talk to, get out in nature to move your body? You are always in control of how you react to your emotions. You can also tape notecards on your cabinets and fridge to post these questions so you see them all the time.
- Focus on the Food: Pay close attention to the taste, texture, and smell of the food, as well as the physical sensations in your body. What does each meal make you feel? Are you really enjoying your food? Is your food fueling you to give you sustained energy? Is your food weighing you down?
- Slow Down: Take your time while eating and savor each bite, chewing thoroughly. Avoid eating too quickly, as it can lead to overeating. If you have 15 minutes on your break allow yourself 10 minutes to slowly eating your food being in the moment with each bite, then the last 4-5 minutes to hydrate and focus on your breathing to be back into your body instead of the rush of the day.
- Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to your body's hunger and fullness signals and stop eating when you are full. For example, there is something called the Sigh Method while eating. A signal that you are full is when you do your first sigh of relief or verbal noise of pleasure while sighing. Sometimes, it sounds like an "Ahhh" after you have finished your first plate before going back up for seconds.
- Practice Gratitude: Take a moment to express gratitude for the food you are eating and the people who made it possible. Unless you have your own garden, there is a whole line of people ahead of you who made the food in your possible right now. Taking a moment to thank them and the places, animals, or areas your food came from will help you become back into that present moment.
Mindful Eating Exercise
An effective exercise for mindful eating comes from the Discover Mindful Eating book by Frederick Burggraf called Two-Plate Approach. This book is full of full of useful tools that will make your mindful eating journey a success.
The Two-Plate Approach is a great way to enjoy the foods you love at restaurants and buffets without going overboard. It allows for conscious portion control of those extra special treats we all indulge in from time to time.
How it works:
- Be sure to have two plates, one smaller and one larger. Even if you are out at a restaurant, ask for another plate, it's okay! No one will judge you. The smaller plate will be your eating plate and the bigger one will be your serving plate. Fill up your serving plate with anything and everything you want to eat.
- When you are ready to eat, take some food from the serving plate and place it onto your eating plate. The amount of food you take is up to you, but the goal here is to be mindful and follow your gut, or that intuition to identify how much food you think will really serve you.
- Transform your meal into a tantalizing and enjoyable experience by cutting the food up into bite-sized pieces while you prepare it for eating.
- Enjoy all the food from your eating plate, using slow bites and drinking in-between.
- When you have completed all the food on your eating plate, pause, take a moment to evaluate how you are feeling. Drink some water. Ask yourself "Do I need more?" Do I really need more" If the answer is no, then its simple, you are done with your meal. If you do need more enjoy more food from your serving plate.
- Bring half of the food from your serving plate onto your eating plate and repeat steps 3-5.
- After completing your second helping, stop and assess your body and how you are feeling. If you find yourself still hungry repeat steps 6 and 7.
5 Top Mindful Eating Books for Beginners
When you are first starting something new, there is an itch inside you that makes you want to learn and crave more information. Of course, there are many mindful books out there, but one of these four touch base on all topics and hit home no matter what stage of the journey you are on.
- The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to love - Why we get hooked and how we can break bad habits by Judson Brewer: Judson Brewer's book is life-changing! He shares how we can use "mindful surfing" to cultivate a healthier, more enjoyable relationship with food. From the basics of mindful eating to overcoming all types of cravings (check out the title)- this book offers invaluable guidance that will make you look at your diet in an entirely new way.
- Eating Mindfully: How to End Mindless Eating and Enjoy a Balanced Relationship with Food by Susan Albers, PSYD: Discover the power of mindful eating with this comprehensive guide. Learn how to approach meals and snacks not only with purpose, but also in an effortless and enjoyable manner. Follow Susan Albers' tips on reframing mindless munchies into productive moments that listen to your body's signals - aligning you closer towards balance & harmony when it comes to nourishing yourself both physically and emotionally.
- Anti-Diet: Reclaim Your Time, Money, Well-Being, and Happiness Through Intutive Eating by Christy harrison, MPH, RD: Harrison unveils how the billion dollar diet industry has been using predatory tactics to make us feel ashamed of our bodies - but it's time for a change. Take back control and adopt an empowering, liberating relationship with food through The Anti-Diet: intuitive eating combined with mindful practices that are sure to bring joy back into your life.
- How To Eat by Thich Nhat Nanh: This beautifully illustrated book offers simple, profound meditations on eating that will leave you with a powerful new perspective. It's an invitation to slow down and savor the moment - letting each spoonful bring you closer to your inner wisdom as we nourish ourselves mindfully.
- Discover Mindful Eating: A Step-By-Step Guide to Using 51 Mindful Eating Activities with your Clients by Frederick Burggraf: Unlock the transformative power of mindful eating with this comprehensive guide! Discover 51 unique, practical activities to help you both teach your clients and use in your own life. You can have step-by-step guidance for each activity plus counseling dialogue to effectively incorporate it into practice. Plus get access to downloadable handouts that make everything easy. This book is for whether using them yourself or teaching others about mindfulness.
Mindful Eating Apps
Eating mindfully is a practice that involves paying attention to the food you eat, how you eat it, and how it makes you feel. Mindful eating can help you make better food choices, control portion sizes, and reduce stress related to food.
But, with our busy lifestyles, it can be challenging to incorporate mindful eating into our daily routine. Fortunately, technology has made it easier than ever to adopt a mindful eating practice with the help of mindful eating apps. There are many to choose from so weather you want to check out one mindful eating app, to all mindful eating apps its best to know what best suits your needs and goals.
5 Mobile Apps to Practice Mindful Eating
- Shutterbite: With Shutterbite, you can get a better understanding of your daily routine and take the time to reflect on it. Just open up the app to see a summary of recent days or quickly enter meals with just one tap. There is a feature that you can scroll through to see all of your past entries from check-ins to meals.. Plus it offers a premium plan to give you access for more than 50 available check-ins each week so that way users make sure they don't miss out any important details about their day. Finally it also gives you an overview of your whole week allowing individuals keep track not only per day but also weekly progressions towards their achieving goals.
- Mindful Eating Coach: This amazing app will help you stay mindful of what and how much you're consuming. With features like resisting urges, reflecting on meals, considering daily habits as a whole, and planning ahead - this is an awesome tool that's sure to make all your snacking decisions simpler than ever before. There are built in features for snacking and will call you out if you are not really hungry and help deficer if you are eating because you are bored, sad, excited or some other emotional state.
- UnDiet Your Mind: If you want to break free from the dieting hamster wheel and give yourself a chance at real, lasting success - then UnDiet Your Mind App is your go-to. Enjoy all of its amazing features with a free version or inexpensive premium subscription and start your journey to healthier living today. With an affordable subscription, you can start accessing daily prompts and action steps created by experts. Get exclusive access to meditations, movement classes and live coaching sessions twice a week that will help keep on track while learning valuable lessons along the way.
- Eat Right Now: This app is for those who enjoy education and understanding their body. There are daily modules that take about 10 minutes per day to complete that range from the Science of Eating, Emotional Eating, and how to perform Body Scans. In this app, you will also find breathing exercises, stress tests, craving tools, and other pre-recorded audio clips to keep you on the right track.
- Noom: Noom is an incredible program that helps you achieve your goals and lead a healthier lifestyle. With personalized coaching, the team will help guide you through understanding the psychological aspects of behavior change to make sure that any activity sticks in your life for good! Plus, at Noom they don't put food off limits - so no matter what kind of cuisine resonates with you personally, adding mindfulness into your routine, there are no restrictions.
If apps aren't your thing, visit https://amihungry.com to find training programs and helpful information about eating mindfully.
Mindful Eating Saves the Day
After discovering mindful eating, Samantha became hungry for learning more to how to not be a nervous eater. She found the book Discover Mindful Eating: A Step-By-Step Guide to Using 51 Mindful Eating Activities with your Clients by Frederick Burggraf useful, as it gave her the confidence to not use food as a coping mechanism anymore.
Now, before leaving for work, she focuses on her breakfast and eats mindfully, savoring each bite. During work meetings, she is present; while doing other work tasks, she makes sure to take frequent short breaks to focus on her breath and practice gratitude. She reminds herself of all the things she is grateful for, including her health and well-being.
During dinner, she focuses on her food, chewing slowly and mindfully, using the Two-Plate Approach from Frederick Burggraf. Whenever she feels nervous, she chews gum instead of eating. She also practices gratitude, reminding herself of all the good things in her life.
At the end of most nights, Samantha feels proud of herself. She knows that she has mindfulness techniques to help her cope with her nervous habits and body issues. She also knows that she takes care of her body and avoids overeating. She goes to bed feeling happy and satisfied, ready for what the next day will bring.
Is Mindful Eating the Same as Slow Eating?
Slow eating is a mindful eating exercise, but it is only a small part of what eating mindfully entails. Mindful eating involves paying attention to the experience of eating holistically, while slow eating focuses on one aspect. Although these two practices are related, they are not the same thing.
How Often Should I Practice Mindful Eating?
You can practice mindful eating as often as you like. The more you practice, the easier it will become. Try to make it a daily habit, and eventually, it will become second nature.
Is Mindful Eating Only for Certain Types of People?
No, mindful eating is for everyone. Whether you're trying to lose weight, manage stress, or live a healthier lifestyle, mindful eating can help you achieve your goals.
Mindful eating is a powerful tool for improving your health and wellness. By paying attention to the experience of eating, you can make healthier food choices, reduce stress, and increase your enjoyment of food.
Do you have any interesting experiences about how your life has changed due to mindful eating practices? Share them in the comments below!