How many times have you eaten and not even realized what you ate, or, how much you ate?
Eating “mindfully,” savoring every mouthful, in the present moment, enhances the experience of eating and keeps us aware of how much we ingest. Being in the moment and fully present is key to mindful eating.
In our world of multitasking, it’s easy to think about meals as something to “fit in” to our schedules rather than taking the time to really enjoy our food. Instead, you should try to be “in the moment” when you eat, especially the first few bites of each meal. Here are five tips to eating mindfully that will help you be aware of what you’re putting in your mouth so that you truly enjoy every mouthful.
1. Check Your Hunger
Be aware of your fullness and stop eating when you feel satisfied – even if there is still food on your plate. Stop a quarter of the way through your meal, and check your hunger level. Take a brief moment to ask yourself before taking the next bite, “Am I really, really hungry? What I am feeling right now is…” If you feel less hungry than usual, make a conscious effort to eat less food than usual.
2. Eat Slowly
This is not easy. We live in a world that stresses instant access and hurrying—eating is no exception. Mindful eaters tell themselves to “slow down” or try to check in with their pace.
Use the “20/20” rule. Chew your food 20 times per bite try to make the meal last at least 20 minutes.
Set your fork down after each bite and don’t pick it up until you’re finished swallowing.
Pause between bites and sip a glass of water or other calorie-free beverage. In addition to slowing down your meal, this may help you feel fuller and eat less at mealtimes.
Intentionally shifting into a reasonable pace of eating is often easier said than done.
3. Be “picky”
Be very discerning about food choices, take small portions, and include lots of seasonal, colorful fruits and vegetables. Mindful eaters really taste food and if they don’t like it, they don’t eat it, just like picky eaters.
4. Don’t Eat Beyond “full”
Mindful eaters tend to eat until they are no longer hungry or feel satisfied. By the time you perceive yourself to be “full,” it is often too late, you’ve overeaten!
Digestion is a complex process that requires communication between the gut and the nervous system. It can take about 20 minutes before the brain receives the fullness message from the stomach, resulting in eating too quickly, so mindlessly eating can cause you to consume too much food before the message is delivered to the brain.
Mindful eating can help rewire your brain to know what genuine physical hunger feels like.
5. Forgive Yourself
Yes, you may overeat on occasion! But, don’t obsess and beat yourself up over it. Let it go. Tomorrow is another day. The next day if it makes you feel better – eat less at every meal.
Mindful eating means a simple commitment to appreciating, respecting and, above all, enjoying the food you eat every day.
There is no right way or wrong way. Remember, mindful eating takes practice! It will become easier the more often you do it.
Each time you eat mindfully, even if it’s only for a few bites, you are making progress.
Don’t give up.
Many people have done it and so can you!