Mindful eating can help you stay healthy and fit for a long time. Some rules of mindful eating are to pay attention to what you’re eating, eat without being interrupted, stop eating when you’re full, and so on. Dietitian Ishi Khosla says that mindful eating means being present while eating. It is a way to think about food that puts the senses at the centre of the experience.
Khosla says that the first step to more thoughtful eating is to tell the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger.
Using Mindfulness to Enjoy a Variety of Foods
Mindfulness is the practice of listening to internal cues and increasing awareness.
Learning to recognize the signs of hunger, such as an empty feeling in the stomach or inability to concentrate, helps a person determine when it’s time to eat.
Recognizing the feeling of fullness or satisfaction can help a person identify when it’s time to stop eating.
As familiarity with the sensations of hunger and fullness register, this process becomes easier to identify. There are tips to help practice mindful eating and increase eating enjoyment.
- Use smaller dishes. Large dinner plates and bowls tend to encourage overeating because of the amount of food they hold. By swapping to smaller-sized dishes, single-serving portions look more substantial. After eating, pausing for a few minutes to take note of hunger or fullness before dishing up another serving helps establish mindfulness while also preventing overeating.
- Eat slowly. Avoid distractions by turning off screens. Instead, take the time to connect through conversation or enjoy quiet self-reflection during meals and snacks. This allows for more awareness of what is eaten and helps with food enjoyment, digestion, and feeling of gratitude.
- Portion servings. Avoid eating directly from the package to create awareness of portion sizes. For example, serve several whole-grain crackers on a plate with a few pieces of cheese and some apple slices for a savory and satisfying snack.
Portion Sizes and Mindfulness
Portion sizes can be incorporated into a mindfulness practice to help guide healthy eating. Being mindful of portion sizes while focusing on high-quality foods such as fruits and vegetables; milk, cheese, and yoghurt; beans, nuts, and seeds; fish, lean meat, poultry, and eggs; and healthy fats and oils can help guide eating choices.
There are many tools to measure portion sizes and help balance variety, taste, and health.
Hand Symbols, such as using one fist to represent one cup, can substitute for measuring cups and spoons as an easy method to compare and learn portion sizes.
The MyPlate website from the U.S. Department of Agriculture also provides a comprehensive list of portion sizes for each food group and accompanying images.
Together, portion sizes, mindfulness, and a focus on high-quality foods can support eating and enjoyment of various foods in support of a healthy eating pattern.
Mindful eating is a life-changing habit that benefits our physical, mental, and emotional health in various ways. We can have a healthier and more balanced relationship with food if we pay attention to and are attentive to the moment.
Mindful eating increases our awareness of our bodies hunger cues and satiety. This helps us to respect our bodies’ natural needs while avoiding overeating and undereating. We can get a greater appreciation for food’s aromas, textures, and nutrients by taking our time and savouring each mouthful.
Mindful nutrition also assists us in connecting with our bodies’ understanding and intuition. This gives us more awareness and understanding regarding food and eating habits. It tells us to pay attention to our emotions and see if emotional impulses or trends influence our eating habits. With this increased self-awareness, we may create healthier solutions to challenges and choose foods that nourish us on all levels.
Mindfulness at meals also assists us in breaking the habit of mindless eating, which occurs when we eat out of habit, worry, or boredom. We may reduce emotions of guilt, shame, and negative self-talk by being kind to ourselves and tolerant of our eating patterns. This can assist us in developing a long-term and healthy connection with eating.
Mindful dining gives a much-needed break from our fast-paced and usually chaotic world. It gives us a moment of serenity and self-care amid the chaos. It tells us to relax, enjoy the present moment, and be thankful for the food our bodies receive. Mindful eating is not a set of rules or guidelines. It is instead a call to approach food and eating with compassion, inquiry, and awareness.
We may notice that our general health improves as we become more aware eaters. We may be able to digest meals more efficiently, have more energy, be more conscious of our bodies, and feel happier in general. By making mindful eating a lifelong habit, we may build a healthy connection with food, nourish our bodies and minds, and embark on a path toward improved health, balance, and self-discovery.