8 Ways to Practice Mindful Eating
Eating mindfully has countless spiritual and mental benefits. Here are 8 ways to start practicing mindful eating.
- Mindful eating can help improve your physical and mental health.
- You do not have to make any changes to your diet to start eating more mindfully.
- Read about 8 ways to practice mindful eating in the following article.
People often think of mindfulness as a practice that only benefits your mental wellbeing, but did you know that it can also help with your physical health?
Mindful eating is a form of mindfulness that helps you be more aware of what you’re eating and how it’s affecting your body. There are many ways to practice mindful eating, and in this post, we’ll give you eight of them. So if you’re looking to improve your relationship with food, read on!
What are the benefits of mindful eating?
Mindful eating is the practice of observing and listening to your body’s signals as you eat. Mindful eating can improve digestion, increase awareness of hunger and satiety cues (i.e., feeling full), decrease stress levels, focus attention on food preparation, increase self-control around food choices, and help with weight management if practiced correctly.
In a nutshell, there are plenty of reasons why anyone should try practicing mindful eating.
Do I have to change my diet to start eating more mindfully?
No. It is a somewhat common misconception that you have to go all-organic or even entirely vegan if you want to eat mindfully.
In reality, there are plenty of mindful eaters who enjoy fast food regularly.
Mindful eating is about the process more than the ingredients, so you can still eat foods that you like or that are readily available, but just try to take notice of what you’re putting into your body (e.g., whole grains versus refined grains, plant-based food versus animal-based, organic versus conventional).
That said, becoming a more mindful eater will probably automatically also turn you into a more healthy eater.
Can I learn how to eat mindfully if I have no previous experience with mindfulness?
Yes. In fact, mindful eating is one of the best entry points to becoming more mindful in other areas of your life as well.
Without further ado, these are the 8 ways to start practicing mindful eating:
Eating too fast is way too common. And, if you want to eat mindfully, you are going to have to ditch this habit. Eating too fast makes us not enjoy our meals, causes us to overeat, and swallow excess air. In a nutshell, there are no benefits to wolfing down your food like a wild beast.
Chew each bite about 20-25 times and give yourself time to truly savor your food. Give yourself time to understand when your body is actually satiated before going for seconds or thirds.
When you start to feel the first hunger dissipate, put your utensils down. Sit in silence for a few minutes before deciding if you’re still hungry or if you’d like to keep eating out of pure habit.
Our brains are much faster than our bodies – you see, our bodies will let us know that we are full AFTER our brain. And, sitting for a while will give the body the chance to let the brain know that it is truly full.
If you are like most people, this little trick will surprise you with how much excess food you actually consume on a daily basis.
Use all your senses.
Mindful eating is not only about the taste of your food. Instead, mindful eating should be an experience in which you use all your senses.
It’s time to start paying attention to your food and truly appreciate it. From now on, treat every bite as an experience in itself.
What does your food look like? How does it smell? Does the texture feel right in your mouth when you bite down? Is it soft or crumbly? Is there any sort of taste in the air when you breathe in before taking a bite?
All of these things (and more) should go through your head for each and every bite of food that enters your mouth – doesn’t matter whether you are eating a frozen pizza or a gourmet meal.
Show appreciation for your food.
When you’re eating, try to show appreciation for the food on your plate. After all, a large portion of the world still goes hungry on a daily basis. In circumstances like this, you show respect to humanity by being thankful for the opportunity to enjoy a good meal.
Try saying a little prayer for your meal before taking a bite. You do not have to use a Christian prayer. Instead, go for whatever feels right for you. It is the thought that matters here! If you feel uncomfortable saying a prayer out loud, feel free to just quietly stay in a grateful headspace before starting to eat.
From my experience, being thankful for your food will also help you enjoy your meal mindfully. Since every bite is not taken for granted, you will also automatically eat slower and enjoy the flavors more.
The more mindful you are during the cooking process, the better your meal will taste! You can thank yourself later for this one.
So, what does it mean to cook mindfully? It means you have to be present and aware of everything going on during the time you prepare your meal.
If you’re doing anything other than this – whether it be daydreaming, worrying, or whatever else – then you’re not cooking mindfully.
If you are cutting up ingredients for your meal, really feel the knife cut through each individual part of the food. Take your time to enjoy the aromas of the spices you use. Focus on all the noises associated with cooking – the sizzling of the pan, boiling of water, etc.
If you truly slow down and appreciate every little bit of effort going into cooking your meal, you’ll also find it easy to stay mindful as you eat this meal.
Shop and choose your food mindfully.
When you’re going food shopping, take your time to decide what you actually need to buy. Will the food items you buy nourish your body? Are these food items produced ethically? Make it a habit of asking yourself questions like this when you are shopping for food.
For example, if you are buying meat, try to inquire about the conditions in which the animal lived before it became your meal. Do not be afraid to ask questions or search for specific information on the labels.
The background of your ingredients is important – it will affect the taste and the connection you have with your food. If you are consuming something that came from an unethical source, it doesn’t matter how mindfully you eat. Your soul will still feel as if something is off.
Try to always eat ethically, your soul and spirit will thank you for it!
Eat in a mindful environment.
If you are surrounded by noise and distractions, it will be so much harder to eat mindfully. So, try to choose a place that is calm and quiet – somewhere that allows you to reflect on what’s really important in life.
I am not saying you should always eat in a place with spiritual associations, that would be unrealistic.
Instead, make it a priority to have a sense of peace at where you eat. If you are eating with family or friends, steer clear of discussing negative subjects while eating. Try turning off the TV playing in the background. Oh, and above all, stay away from your phone.
When you consciously create an environment where food and good communication are priorities, you will find it that much easier to enjoy your meals mindfully.
Be aware of your motivations for eating.
Are you eating to distract yourself from negative emotions? Or are you really hungry? Don’t worry, no judgment!
It is human to turn to various distractions when we feel stressed out, tired, or just irritated. And, food (namely unhealthy food) can provide a great distraction from our negative feelings. However, as tempting as numbing yourself with food can be, it is not nearly as fulfilling as a truly mindful meal.
If you often eat because you feel a certain emotion or need a distraction from something, try to identify the emotion before sitting down to eat. If it’s a negative thought, try not to get caught up in it. Just watch it calmly.
If it’s a feeling, try to sit with the feeling and identify where in your body you feel it. There is no need to evaluate or judge what you’re thinking or feeling; just observe it as if you were watching waves on the ocean.
Usually, just becoming a quiet observer is enough to defuse the negative thoughts or feelings.
And, once you are in a better mindset, you will understand whether you were really hungry or were just looking for a quick distraction.
Share a meal with positive people.
The people you eat with are as important as the food you are eating. Whenever possible, try to enjoy food in the presence of people who make you feel loved, cared for, and respected.
It is all too common to gossip, whine, and put others down while we eat. This needs to stop! It brings negative energy to the table. The energy that makes it impossible to enjoy a truly mindful meal.
It is understandable that you are not always able to choose who you eat with. If you need to share a table with negative people, speak out! Kindly tell the other participants of the meal that you are not comfortable discussing subjects like this.
You might be hit with an uncomfortable silence at first, but it is always worth it.
Sometimes people themselves are not consciously aware of how much negativity they bring to the table. They might even be thankful that you let them know of the negativity they harbor.
Mindful eating is a process of becoming fully aware and present in the moment. It’s about paying attention to what you’re consuming, how your body feels after you’ve eaten, and if it satiates you or not.
In this blog post, we’ve provided 8 ways that can help anyone practice mindful eating and become more grounded in their food choices.
If these tips resonate with you, feel free to share them on social media so others may benefit from them as well!
Goodbye for now! And good luck experimenting with mindful eating!