What is mindful eating?
Here's how being more aware of what you eat could benefit you.
If you’re looking to improve your lifestyle this year, mindful eating could be the answer. But, first, what is mindful eating? According to The Art of Mindful Eating: 7 Easy Exercises for Greater Health, Happiness and Peace of Mind, mindful eating is exactly that: eating consciously, with awareness of what you put into your body; tasting, savouring and appreciating your food, as opposed to “mindless eating”. It is the beginning of a holistic approach to becoming a better you.
Tips on how to eat mindfully
So how can you start eating more mindfully?
- Before you start your meal, take three to five deep breathes – this will help you to relax. Food is absorbed and processed correctly when we are relaxed. When we are stressed our bodies store fats faster.
- Try to always sit down at a table to eat your meal and have no distractions. We are more relaxed and more aware of the meal when we eat at the table. When we eat at the computer or in front of the television, we eat just for the purpose of eating and filling ourselves – most often than not, this is when we overeat and cannot even remember what we have eaten.
- Realise how hungry you really are. Eat only to be satisfied, not to be full. Most of us eat and continue to eat until we are uncomfortably full. Start to listen to what your body is telling you.
- Slow down and chew each bite thoroughly, savouring your food. Enjoy the different tastes that have been combined to create your delicious meal. The more slowly we eat and chew, the better our bodies process our food. It takes the body roughly 20 minutes to register that it is full, by which time you have overeaten. Be present and aware of your meal.
- Appreciate the effort that has gone into your meal, from the lives that brought you to this meal as well as the hands that prepared it.
- Start to think about what you are eating and make healthier choices that are better for your body. Less sugar, salt, red meat and processed foods and more water, vegetables and fibre are all beneficial to you and the environment as well.
Mindful eating is not the same as dieting
If you’re thinking “oh, no, I don’t want to start the new year with another diet”, don’t despair: mindful eating is not a diet. Here’s how mindful eating differs from following a strict diet:
- There is no rigid meal plan. You can eat anything you want when you want – just eat the amount your body needs.
- You eat smaller portions as often as you need but you eat more slowly.
- There are no dietary plans – all foods are allowed.
- Make simple healthier changes with maximum impact, for example, switch from white sugar to brown, and choose water over juices or soft drinks.
- When you feel you are hungry out of your normal mealtime, assess whether it is hunger or thirst. Most times we misread our bodies’ thirst as hunger and end up overeating. If you must, have a healthy snack.
- Set fixed mealtimes. Enjoy dinner before 7pm as this gives your body more time to digest before bed.
Will you be trying a more mindful approach to eating in 2022? Let us know in the comments below!