A diverse array of diets exist, each with unique principles and guidelines. In today’s world, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for diets. With the various diet plans available, each person must find the right approach that works best for them.
From veganism and vegetarianism to paleo and keto diets, there are countless options with varying levels of restriction, allowing people to tailor their nutrition plan according to their individual needs and goals.
An alternative to conventional diets, mindful eating encourages you to pay attention to how the food makes you feel. Not only does it help in distinguishing physical and emotional hunger, but it also helps avoid overindulging as well as shedding those extra pounds while enhancing your mood at the same time.
How Does Mindful Eating Work?
Mindful eating is founded on the practice of mindfulness, which stems from Buddhist philosophy. This type of meditation allows us to be attuned to our feelings and bodily sensations. Mindfulness has many applications—it can help treat symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, or even disordered eating habits.
If you are still wondering what mindfulness in eating is, let’s explore some concrete behaviors that encompass mindful eating:
- Eating slowly without distraction.
- Distinguishing between true hunger and mindless eating.
- Follow physical hunger cues and stop eating when you’re full.
- Cope with guilt and anxiety about food.
- Focus on colors, smells, sounds, textures, and flavors, and recognize your feelings.
- Noticing the effects food has on your emotions and body.
- Appreciating your food.
Listening to your body’s signals, understanding the cause of hunger, and finding a balance between emotional eating and natural appetite are all steps in creating an optimal state of health. With these considerations taken into account, you can cultivate feelings of well-being for yourself.
Why Should You Try Mindful Eating?
- The fast-paced work and life increase stress, and eating to relieve negative emotions are easy.
- The abundance of food gives you more choices, but almost all foods have added sugar, which can be addictive.
- Looking at your phone while eating makes it harder and harder to notice how full you feel.
- You eat quickly to have more time to do other things instead of engaging your senses and thoughts.
If you often feel like you’re eating without ever feeling satiated, it could be a sign of Binge Eating Disorder (BED). This habit can lead to excess weight gain and other potentially serious health conditions if left unchecked.
Eating can provide more than just physical nourishment; it is a powerful source of emotional satisfaction. Focusing on your food while eating allows you to appreciate the vibrant colors, tantalizing textures, and delectable flavors that stimulate your senses. Moreover, savoring every bite will make it simpler to reduce stress and find joy in life’s little pleasures.
Eating mindfully gives you the power to become more aware of your body signals and emotions. You’ll be able to recognize when you truly feel hungry, what triggers cause overeating, and how to eat without feeling guilty afterward. With mindfulness in eating, you can regain focus and gain control over yourself at mealtimes.
Mindful eating is more of a lifestyle than an instruction manual. It doesn’t necessitate advanced cooking knowledge nor limit you to particular types of food—it’s simple to carry out.
How To Start? Let’s Do Mindful Eating Step-by-step!
1. Ask yourself, “Am I hungry?”
Before cooking something to eat, make sure you’re starving. Eating should only occur when your body asks for it; the aim should be to stop as soon as hunger dissipates—looking for something to revitalize your taste buds? Tea, coffee, and lemonade are all excellent options!
Not only that, but you may find yourself unexpectedly satiated after drinking them. Next time hunger pangs arise, pause and ask yourself: “Am I actually hungry or am I simply craving a specific food?” Taking some deep breaths with your eyes closed can be incredibly calming; alternatively, going out on a brief stroll can also help relieve the urge to eat.
2. Eat Slowly
Scarfing down your food can lead to overeating and uncomfortable fullness. It takes a minimum of 20 minutes for the brain to realize that you are content after you’ve eaten, so always take time with each bite; this will not only help digestion but also give your mind enough time to understand when it needs no more sustenance.
Eating hastily may cause you to forget the importance of taking deep breaths, increasing your heart rate and leaving your stomach bloated. Allow yourself time for food preparation and meal enjoyment by putting your fork between each bite-sized portion. Emphasize pacing yourself; patience is critical when nourishing your body.
3. Find Out Your Hunger Triggers
Hunger is driven by:
- low blood sugar levels
- stomach and intestinal emptiness
- hormonal changes
- boredom and stress
Take a few moments each day to reflect on your eating habits and jot down the answers. Doing so will help you identify what prompts you to eat mindlessly, thus enabling you to control your hunger triggers better.
- Why do these situations stimulate hunger or food cravings?
- What feelings do these situations evoke?
- Were you hungry, or was something else driving your desire to eat?
If you’re feeling the urge to eat due to an external factor, strive to deal with it or remove yourself from the circumstance instead of turning towards food.
4. Eat Whole Foods, Avoid Processed Foods
According to CouponBirds’ data, leading a paleo lifestyle focusing on whole foods can benefit those suffering from autoimmune diseases. Choosing grass-fed meats and organic produce allows the body’s nutrient needs to be met without needing processed food with empty calories. By eating this way, you are giving your body only the best.
When your body is deprived of sufficient nutrients, it sends a signal to the brain that compels you to search for nourishment until your nutrient needs are fulfilled. To curtail hunger and cravings, ensure that you maintain an adequate intake of vitamins and minerals.
5. Eat Your Meal Free From Distractions
Mindless eating can cause you to take in more calories than necessary. To avoid this, try to pay attention and focus on each bite when consuming food; instead of scrolling through your phone or reading a book, use the time as an opportunity for reflection. Doing so will help ensure that you don’t overeat and become full at a gradual pace.
6. Be Thankful for Your Food
Pause and give thanks for your meal before you start eating. Remember the hard work that goes into getting food to your plate—from cows grazing in pastures, farmers harvesting vegetables and fruit, and chefs making delicious pizzas. Food is a precious resource; show appreciation for it constantly.
Subvocalizing can be pretty helpful—simply speaking the words to yourself is a great way to remind your brain of what you are trying to do. This will make it easier for you to take in the flavors and textures of food, allowing you to slow down and feel more fulfilled when done eating.
Additionally, watching documentaries that focus on farming, raising animals, or cooking allows us further understand how our meals come together before we enjoy them at our table.
7. Engage Your Sense of Sight
By tapping into your sense of sight to observe the exquisite beauty of each ingredient in your meals, you can boost both your appreciation and enthusiasm for them. Before cooking or consuming a meal, learn about what makes up that dish. Does it look appetizing? If not, why do you think this is so?
Create a compelling presentation by serving your meal on beautiful dishes, adding extra light to the room, and coloring with bright vegetables such as parsley, bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes. Tablecloths adorned with interesting patterns alongside charming decorations can elevate the atmosphere for an even more captivating dining experience.
Mindful eating is a great way to take control of your hunger and cravings and help you better understand the underlying factors driving them. Tapping into our sense of sight, subvocalizing what we are about to eat, being thankful for food, and engaging in activities that remind us where it comes from can all be helpful tools when striving to become mindful eaters.
Eating whole foods instead of processed ones will give your body the necessary nutrients without extra calories or empty nutrition. With these tips in mind, start embracing mindful eating.