As enthusiasm for New Year’s resolutions starts to wane many people are looking for help to lose weight. Instead of dieting this year, consider mindful eating to help you reach your goals.
In our culture, most of the eating we do is totally mindless. We grab a protein bar here or a pastry and coffee there as we head into work or drive the kids to an appointment or game. If you are concentrating on your driving (which I hope you are!), it is practically impossible to even register that you are eating. This often leads to cravings and more eating.
Mindfulness refers to being aware and in the moment. Most of us have about ten other things on our minds. We are preoccupied about what happened yesterday and worried about what is going to happen tomorrow. And stressed about what might happen next week.
Being aware helps you to focus on the present moment so you can get more enjoyment out of what you are doing instead of being constantly distracted. Tuning in reminds us to gently bring ourselves back to the present moment.
5 Mindful Eating Tips
- Observe. Check in by asking yourself questions. Are you hungry? OR, is it stress? Boredom? Restlessness? What is the trigger in your environment that is encouraging you to eat? What does hunger feel like to you? What do you need in this moment? Is it really hunger or an emotional craving? How do you know if you are full?
- Be grateful. Pause and take a moment to acknowledge the effort that went into creating your meal. Be thankful to the farmers, the animals, the cook and your dinner companions.
- Sit down. It’s difficult to appreciate what you are eating if you are multi-tasking. Sit down and relax for a bit. I once read that stress can decrease your absorption and increase your excretion of nutrients. Even if you are eating a highly nutritious meal, you might be netting zero nutritionally if you are stressed or distracted.
- Chew your food. Many stomach issues are related to the fact that we don’t thoroughly chew our food. Focus on the texture and flavor of the food you are eating. Try to chew at least 20 to 30 times. Try it. You will be surprised how far you might be from that goal.
- Slow down. The slower you eat, the more time you will allow for your brain and stomach to communicate with one another. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes for your brain to catch up with your stomach to register that you are full.It’s just a habit. Check in with yourself. I know it’s a challenging habit to break. Try eating with your non-dominant hand. You will get there!
Start becoming conscious of what drives your behavior because you don’t have to be swept away by your impulses. You have choices and can respond with foresight and wisdom rather than habit and reactivity.