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Have you ever reached the end of your day, thought over what and how often you ate and real­ized you almost can’t remem­ber con­sum­ing half of those calories? That’s com­mon in our “hur­ry-up-with-every­thing!” world. And unfor­tu­nate­ly, rush­ing your meals, gulp­ing food down when you’re on the go or behind the wheel, and eat­ing a lot of fast food are all fac­tors that con­tribute to obe­si­ty and heart disease. Mind­ful eat­ing is a great way to com­bat those prob­lems. With a bit of plan­ning, you can make food work for your waist­line, not against it. Pay­ing close atten­tion to what, how, and when you eat is part of mind­ful eat­ing. But we aren’t going to kid you – it takes a lit­tle work to adjust to this new approach to eat­ing. How­ev­er, the rewards are huge.

What Is Mindful Eating?

Mind­ful­ness is a broad Bud­dhist con­cept, which in essence means you approach every­thing  (not just eat­ing) in an atten­tive way, med­i­tat­ing on each deci­sion, action and choice you make in life. It is in some respects like silent prayer, except mind­ful­ness is meant to be prac­tised through­out the day as you go about your dai­ly rou­tines. Mind­ful eat­ing means pay­ing atten­tion to every­thing involved in food con­sump­tion – from plan­ning meals to set­ting the table to the process of chewing. In this arti­cle, we explain how to start eat­ing mind­ful­ly, and then we do a deep dive into the practice’s many benefits.

How To Start Mindful Eating & How To Practice Mindful Eating?

what is mindful eating - how to practice mindful eating Here Are Some Guide­lines To Get You On The Road To Mind­ful Eating:
  • Don’t Leave Distractions On While Eating

That means no tele­vi­sion, no radio, no stereo, and def­i­nite­ly no phone or lap­top. It’s a big ask, we know. But these dis­trac­tions serve as blink­ers when you’re eat­ing, and before you know it, you’ve con­sumed far more food than you need or intend­ed to consume. If you can’t imag­ine eat­ing with­out your phone near­by, ask the fam­i­ly to join in this res­o­lu­tion, even if only for a few days. Get them on board with your com­mit­ment to mind­ful eat­ing, and we guar­an­tee every­one will start enjoy­ing the peace, qui­et and con­ver­sa­tion that fol­lows when TV news doesn’t dom­i­nate everyone’s attention.
  • Consciously Slow Down Your Pace Of Eating

That means put your fork or spoon down between bites. Chew your food slow­ly and care­ful­ly, at least 25 or 30 times. Be aware of every smell, tex­ture and flavour that are part of your meal. Look at your plate, and take in the colours and aro­mas of each mouth­ful of food. These are the things we often rush through or over­look entire­ly. To eat mind­ful­ly, you need to con­cen­trate on every aspect of your meal.
  • Always Eat At The Table

Rush­ing around with your break­fast in one hand and your hair­brush in the oth­er, try­ing to get ready for work, is a sure way to miss the joys of mind­ful eating. Set your alarm 15 min­utes ear­li­er, if nec­es­sary, so you can sit down at the table to enjoy your morn­ing meal. Sip your cof­fee or tea, and chew your food slow­ly, just like you do at din­ner time. Rac­ing around swal­low­ing big bites of toast is an excel­lent way to get indigestion! Every meal needs to be enjoyed slow­ly, not just sup­per. And if it’s pos­si­ble, don’t grab a sand­wich at your desk at lunchtime. Even 15 or 20 min­utes is enough time to go out­side, sand­wich in hand, and find a qui­eter place than the office at which to eat lunch. A change of scene, like a pic­nic table in a park, facil­i­tates mind­ful eating.
  • Listen To Your Body’s Hunger Cues

Just because it’s six or sev­en o’clock in the evening doesn’t always mean you’re ready for sup­per. Pay atten­tion to the sig­nals your body is send­ing – are you gen­uine­ly hun­gry? If you are feed­ing the fam­i­ly at a sched­uled time, but you’re not very hun­gry because you had a big lunch with a client, for exam­ple, don’t eat just for the sake of eat­ing. Take half por­tions, or feed the fam­i­ly and wait to have your own meal. It’s not the end of the world if you and they are occa­sion­al­ly on slight­ly dif­fer­ent food schedules! Get them start­ed, then sit down and talk, or do a quick work­out before eat­ing. Our point here is that mind­ful eat­ing means lis­ten­ing to your body’s sig­nals and nev­er eat­ing just for its own sake.

The Benefits Of Mindful Eating:

what is mindful eating - how to practice mindful eating There are so many; where do we begin? Let’s start with the num­ber on your scale – mind­ful eat­ing can help it go down!
  • Weight Loss

Pay­ing atten­tion to what, where, when and how you eat means you are far less like­ly to con­sume need­less or excess calo­ries. How often do you munch on a bag of chips when watch­ing a movie on Net­flix, only to sud­den­ly real­ize you’ve eat­en the entire bag? We’ve all done it! Mind­ful eat­ing means snack­ing is care­ful­ly man­aged. There is noth­ing inher­ent­ly wrong with snack­ing a lit­tle while watch­ing TV. It’s what you eat and how much that mat­ters. Con­sid­er an apple sliced with a table­spoon of peanut but­ter instead of chips. Or if it’s a salty snack you want, have nuts instead of some­thing processed like pota­to chips. Mind­ful eat­ing means know­ing the nutri­tion­al val­ue of food, and there­fore emp­ty calo­ries are ditched in favour of nutri­tious foods. The old say­ing, “you are what you eat,” is still true! It dove­tails per­fect­ly with the prin­ci­ples behind mind­ful eating.
  • Mindful Eating Fosters Wellness

Pay­ing atten­tion to the food you con­sume helps you pay atten­tion to your over­all well-being, phys­i­cal­ly and psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly. For exam­ple: do you notice that you eat more when you’re stressed or skip meals entirely? Learn­ing how emo­tions impact your eat­ing habits is part of mind­ful eat­ing. It helps you pay atten­tion to the cir­cum­stances that lead you to eat poor­ly or eat properly. Mind­ful eat­ing helps you avoid binge eat­ing, and that’s a bad habit just about every­one falls prey to occa­sion­al­ly. Know­ing your emo­tion­al trig­gers around food com­pels you to cope with them ahead of meal­times. And learn­ing how to deal with those things in a healthy man­ner (like by work­ing out, per­haps?) means food will stop car­ry­ing emo­tion­al weight – you will start see­ing it as fuel and noth­ing more. And that’s how we should all view food!
  • Mindful Eating May Lead To Mindfulness In Other Areas

Once you have a sol­id grip on how and what you eat and you’re moti­vat­ed to eat prop­er­ly because of the pos­i­tive out­comes, you may want to prac­tice mind­ful­ness in oth­er areas of life. Deep breath­ing exer­cis­es, for exam­ple, can be part of mind­ful­ness that helps at the office. Let’s say you lose your cool when a col­league doesn’t do their share of a group project. Let­ting your annoy­ance show isn’t always pro­duc­tive, right? Prac­tis­ing mind­ful­ness is a smart alter­na­tive to los­ing your com­po­sure at work because it helps you con­trol emo­tions that might not be appro­pri­ate in a pro­fes­sion­al set­ting. Deep breath­ing in a qui­et place helps you regain your focus before you deal with a lazy col­league. If mind­ful eat­ing leads to mind­ful­ness in oth­er aspects of your life, you’ll no doubt see plen­ty of addi­tion­al ben­e­fits in those areas, too.
  • Mindful Eating Is “in the moment” Eating

Because prac­tis­ing mind­ful­ness means you work to stay in the present and not dwell on past mis­takes, you’ll let go of old dietary blun­ders. Did you try los­ing weight in Jan­u­ary after mak­ing a New Year’s res­o­lu­tion, only to feel starved and wind up drop­ping the effort and gain­ing a few pounds? Mind­ful eat­ing helps you let go of those past mis­takes and stop being so hard on your­self for long-gone slips that can’t be cor­rect­ed, but they can be for­got­ten. Mind­ful eat­ing keeps you in the here, and now, so your focus stays on all the good and nutri­tious foods you’re enjoy­ing today, rather than think­ing about the French fries you gob­bled down a month ago.

Wrapping Up

Mind­ful eat­ing is the smart way to approach food. It doesn’t ask you to count calo­ries, cut out car­bo­hy­drates, or even elim­i­nate snack­ing while you watch a movie with your spouse on Sat­ur­day night. What it does ask you to do is pay atten­tion to the foods you eat, slow down and enjoy every mouth­ful, and focus on the plate in front of you – not the plate you devoured six months ago that still makes you feel guilty. Mind­ful eat­ing is part of an over­all approach to well­ness that helps you trim down, feel bet­ter, and maybe even get your blood pres­sure under con­trol. You don’t have to buy any­thing to start eat­ing mind­ful­ly – all you have to do is lis­ten to your body, think about the nutri­tion­al val­ue of foods, and focus on today. Think of mind­ful eat­ing as a way of invest­ing in your body’s health and well-being – and in a hap­pi­er, health­i­er you!  

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