It’s Sunday afternoon and you’re sprawled out on the couch, in the third or fourth hour of your own personal Making a Murder marathon, covered in chip crumbs.
Or maybe you’re jogging from zumba to yoga, wiping the sweat from your brow as you wolf down a Vega bar while simultaneously sucking back a Jamba Juice.
Chances are your lifestyle falls somewhere between these two extreme scenarios. But whether you're concerned with fitness and weight loss or not, mindful eating is a concept we could all stand to practice.
What is mindful eating?
If you relate to the scenarios above, it’s safe to say you know what mindful eating isn’t. So what is it? Mindful eating is, in a nutshell, paying attention to your body. Rather than mindlessly shoving food in your mouth out of boredom, depression, or stress, it’s recognizing your body’s physical need for food, and satisfying that need consciously. It’s setting an intention. Kind of like yoga, but tastier!
TEN TIPS FOR MINDFUL EATING
1. Ask the tough question
Before you reach for the chips, ask yourself, “Am I even hungry?” If not, back away from the fridge. Pour yourself a mug of cinnamon and honey tea and dig a little deeper. What is it about your current mood or emotional state that’s causing you to turn to food?
2. Slow down
Sure, you’re busy, and sometimes it feels like eating lunch is just taking away from your to-do list. But scarfing snacks on the run causes us to lose track of our intake and can lead to both undereating and overeating (both are unhealthy, for the record). Allow yourself the time to actually enjoy your meal. Savor the flavor! Chew!
3. Quit multitasking
Instead of working, reading, or perusing Facebook while you eat lunch, pay attention to the wonderful meal you’re ingesting. Give eating 100% of your attention.
4. Eat at the table
Not on the couch, not at your desk, and no matter what, never EVER, eat in bed.
5. Use a dish (preferably a small one)
While it’s tempting to avoid dirtying yet another bowl, eating directly from the package leads to overeating simply for the fact that you can’t tell how much you’ve consumed. The only thing telling you to stop is the empty bag — and by then it’s too late. Sacrifice the suds to save empty calories and grocery dollars.
6. Chew, chew, chew!
Chewing your food thoroughly will help slow down your eating process, giving your tummy a chance to realize its full. It also helps with digestion, and it gives you more time to appreciate the wonderful textures and flavors of your meal. Yes!
7. Mix it up
Your relationship with food is one of the only ones you'll ever have where it’s totally acceptable to cheat. Iceberg lettuce won’t mind if you dance with kale (and we highly recommend you do so). Try new things. Create dishes with ingredients from your own garden. If you don’t have a garden, hit your local farmer’s market. Explore!
8. Switch hands
It sounds strange, but eating with your non-dominant hand is another way of shifting out of autopilot and eating more consciously. It feels super awkward but it’s also kind of fun!
9.Take a break
Get up mid-meal for another glass of water (or if you’ve already had a few glasses of water, hit the loo). Whatever it is that you do, the idea is that taking a quick break from your meal will give your stomach a chance to catch up with your mouth and send your brain the cues it needs to feel full.
10. Give thanks for your food
Before you dig in, acknowledge your meal. Reflect on the time and effort put in. Give thanks to the Earth, the farmers and chefs. Give thanks to yourself! Learn to appreciate nourishment as a gift.
New habits take time. Mindful eating is no different. Try integrating one or two of these tips into your lifestyle at a time. The result will be a healthier, happier #mintyfreshlife! Let us know some of your favorite tips in the comments below.