10 Simple Steps Towards Mindful Eating
You might have heard the phrase “mindful eating” more and more in the nutrition space lately. It’s become a prominent technique that helps you gain control over your eating habits. But what exactly is it? What are its perks and how can you achieve it?
Mindful eating involves tuning into your natural hunger and satiety cues, instead of eating according to the clock. It involves being present in the moment to enjoy your food, rather than scoffing down some lunch in front of a screen during a 10-minute lunch break (which we are all guilty of!). It also involves freedom with food and eating foods that you enjoy but also choosing foods that will nourish your body.
Did you know that it can take 20 minutes for our brains to register that we’re full?
Mindful eating has been scientifically proven to reap many benefits, including weight management, improved blood sugar control, reduced gastrointestinal discomfort (e.g. bloating), and reduced stress.
For your next meal, have a go at mindful eating by trying these tips:
1. Make a mindful shopping list
Consider the nutritional value of each item you add to your list and bring your shopping list with you to avoid impulse buying when you’re shopping. You could also try ordering your groceries online through home delivery or click and collect, so you don’t stray from your shopping list.
Fill most of your cart in the produce section and avoid the center aisles—which tend to have more processed foods in them — and the chips and chocolate at the check-out counter. Avoid foods with long ingredients lists, or ingredients containing numbers and words too long to pronounce.
2. Don’t eat in front of a screen
Turn off the TV, leave your phone in another room, and sit down at the dining table to eat your meal. If you’re at work, take a proper lunch break rather than eating at your desk.
3. Eat when you’re starting to feel hungry
Eat your meals with an appetite – but not when you’re ravenously hungry. If you skip meals, or wait to eat until you’re really hungry, you may be so eager to get anything in your stomach that you overeat or eat mindlessly.
4. Start with a small portion
It can be helpful to eat from smaller plates and bowls. Seeing less on your plate can help you slow down and savour the food you’re eating. Tell yourself that you can go back for a second helping if you’re still hungry after eating your smaller portion. You’d be surprised at how often you don’t feel the need to go back for more!
5. Appreciate your food
Pause for a minute or two before you begin eating to contemplate where your food came from and how your meal was prepared. Silently express gratitude for the opportunity to enjoy delicious food and the companions you’re enjoying it with.
6. Activate all your senses
When you’re cooking, serving, and eating your food, pay attention to the colours, textures, aromas, and even the sounds different foods make as you prepare them. As you chew your food, try identifying all the ingredients, especially seasonings.
7. Take small bites
It’s easier to taste food completely and be aware of all of your senses when your mouth isn’t overly full. Take smaller forkfuls and put down your knife and fork between bites.
8. Chew thoroughly
Chew well and really taste all of the layers of flavour in your meal. You may have to chew each mouthful 20 to 40 times, depending on the food. You’d be surprised at all the different flavors that are released and how your body will feel full at the same time as your mind.
9. Eat slowly
If you follow the tips above, this should happen naturally. If you’re eating with other people, try to be aware of how quickly you’re eating while you chat to those around you.
10. Stop eating when you’re satisfied
This should be a no-brainer, but it’s so common to try and finish everything on your plate even though you’re already full. The key here is to stop eating when you feel satisfied – not when you feel like you’ve eaten too much! Don’t eat till you’re stuffed, eat till you’re satisfied!