Mindful eating means purposefully paying attention to our food when we’re eating without passing judgment, focusing on our sensual awareness of the food and our experience of the food. Mindful eating can improve our perception and relationship with food.
It can feel difficult to practice mindful eating. We are constantly inundated with new diets, supplements, messages about being too skinny, too overweight, too athletic, too anything. Sometimes, we end up scarfing our food down because it has become a habit, or we are too busy to take our time, or we have a hard time slowing down.
What if eating was a mindful activity that could bring us enjoyment and fulfillment? What if it wasn’t about the food, but about paying attention to our mind, body, and soul in the process of nourishment?
When we take control of our thinking, we can shift our relationship with food. Here are some ideas for how to change how we nurture our mind and body:
- Allow all foods.
If, in the past, you’ve restricted yourself from eating certain foods, give yourself unconditional permission to enjoy all foods. Begin this process as an experiment with one food at a time. If possible, eat with a friend or loved one for support.
- Work to ensure adequate physical and mental nourishment from food.
Even on the days when the voices telling you to restrict are loud, make sure you are getting enough nutrition to maintain your health. Try keeping a food and feelings journal of what you ate and what you were feeling and thinking at the time of each meal. A food and feelings diary is a way for you to make observations about the connections between the foods you eat and how you feel both physically and mentally. It can allow you to become attuned with your hunger and fullness, emotional eating, as well as develop a style of eating that fosters mental and physical health without following diets or food rules.
- Work towards variety.
Try to maintain a balanced plate of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and fiber for the three main meals each day that are usually recommended for most people. This helps you feel your best as well as provides your body with all the vitamins and minerals it needs to thrive.
- Recognize and honor your hunger.
Giving yourself adequate nutrition at regular intervals when you’re hungry allows your body’s metabolism to work the way it should.
- Feel your fullness.
This can be challenging! You may not recognize the need to stop eating until you are overly stuffed (this is very common). Begin with being present and try to feel how it feels to be “full” and not overly stuffed.
- Encourage satisfaction.
When you allow yourself to eat what you truly crave, you feel so much more content. Honor your taste preferences and notice how they play into satiety.