There are very few people that eat mindfully, and it shows. The obesity rate for those over 20 years of age is 40% in the United States! In Canada, the number is around 30%. If you could stand to lose a few pounds, mindful eating is a viable solution to a healthy waistline.
What is mindful eating? In a nutshell, mindful eating is eating only when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full. It is also putting your full attention on your eating experience. For example, in Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While you Eat Joseph B. Nelson, explains how he eats a raisin mindfully. Really.
Most people don’t eat mindfully. They’re watching TV, talking, playing on their phone, or thinking about something else while they eat. These are habits that lead to overeating and weight gain. I’m very guilting of watching something or reading when I eat. That’s something I’m working on right now.
Try these tips to do your health and waistline a favor by eating mindfully:
1. Start with mindful shopping.
Avoid the tendency to just automatically buy the same things you’ve always bought at the store. Instead, ask yourself whether or not an item supports your health goals before placing it into your shopping cart. Be mindful of each item you choose to take home with you. Making a list of what you need beforehand can help. So can practicing regular meal preparation.
2. Remove distractions.
Eat with minimal distractions. Turn off the TV. Put your phone away. Close your book. Ideally, you won’t even talk during a meal unless you are having your meal with others, of course. Clear away all the distractions and just eat.
3. Start with a reasonable amount of food.
The more food you put on your plate, the more you’re likely to eat. Start with about ⅔ of your normal amount. You can always go back for seconds if you’re still hungry. The bonus is that maybe you had enough and have no desire for seconds.
4. Put your full attention on your meal.
Keep your thoughts on the experience of eating. This isn’t the time to think about work, your boss, your significant other, kids, or bills. Relax and focus your thoughts on eating. See Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While you Eat Joseph B. Nelson.
5. Chew slowly and thoroughly.
The faster you eat, the more you’ll eat. It takes a while for your brain to get the signal that you’re full. Eating slowly will help to prevent overeating. Take your time and chew slowly. Some experts suggest chewing your food up to 30 times, depending on what you are eating. The food isn’t going anywhere. Give yourself the chance to enjoy it.
6. Focus on the taste.
Unhealthy foods often taste great if eaten quickly. Many of them aren’t so delicious if eaten slowly. Also, many healthy foods are more enjoyable if eaten more slowly. Really notice the flavor of your food.
◦ Here’s an interesting experiment. Take a piece of sweet fruit that you enjoy. It could be an orange or a small bunch of grapes. Eat the food very slowly and keep your attention on the flavor. You’ll find that it’s not easy to finish the entire fruit. Fruit is nature’s dessert.
◦ Now, take an unhealthy food and do the same thing. You’ll find it’s not that appetizing. Unhealthy foods are designed to be enjoyable when eaten quickly, since that’s how most people eat.
7. Only eat when you’re actually hungry.
There’s no reason to wait until you’re ravenous. However, there’s also no reason to eat if you’re not hungry. Allow yourself to feel hunger before eating. If you eat when you’re not hungry, your waistline may expand and your health can quickly take a nosedive. Also, it’s important to realize that many times we think we are hungry but in reality we are actually thirsty. So drink plenty of water so your body is hydrated and you won’t feel false hunger.
8. Be grateful for your food.
Have gratitude for the food you’re eating. It’s a privilege to have plenty to eat. You’re luckier than most of the world’s population. Gratitude is a part of mindfulness. In other words say grace.
Mindfulness is paying attention to your emotions, surroundings, and actions, purposefully and non-judgmentally. It’s a type of self-awareness. Few people eat mindfully. We multitask while eating, and the result is overeating. This is extremely unhealthy, and it’s simply not an enjoyable way to eat.
Much of the eating experience is lost if you’re not paying attention. Eat mindfully and notice the impact it has on your life.