We’ve reviewed the 5 steps to mindful eating over the past five weeks. I hope you were able to focus on each step during the challenge week, because this week’s challenge is putting all the steps together!
- Turn off the television, radio and computer
- Put away cell phones, ipads and ipods
- Close the book, magazine and put away any work
Make sure there is nothing around to distract you from the food in front of you.
If you are eating with others, do not speak and eat at the same time. When speaking or being spoken to, put your utensils down and give your full attention to the conversation at hand. When the conversation is over, then you can focus on your food and eat.
When we are distracted, we eat more. We miss cues that our body is giving us telling us we are full and we miss out on the pleasure of eating. If we are focused on talking, typing or watching a tv show, then we do not taste the goodness that is in front of us.
It takes your body 20 minutes to realize you are full. So if you eat all your food in 10 minutes or less, you are not giving your body enough time to recognize it is full and this can often lead to overeating. After eating a quick meal, we tend to feel overstuffed later. To avoid this unpleasant feeling, take your time during meals.
- Put your fork or spoon down after every bite or two and take a few breaths.
- Take a sip of water in between bites.
- Set a timer for 20 minutes and make sure you are not finished with your meal before time is up.
Whether it is in prayer or a simple moment of gratitude, before you eat take some time to be thankful. You can be thankful for the weather, the day, your life, your family and friends, anything you want. Also be grateful for the opportunity to take time and nourish yourself with wholesome food. When we appreciate the activity we are about to do, we enjoy it much more.
When eating, notice different aspects of your food. This will help you slow down while eating as well as appreciate and enjoy your meal much more.
- What does your food look like? Is it arranged in a pleasing way?
- How does the food smell? Does the smell bring back any memories?
- How does the food feel in your mouth? Is the texture pleasing? Does the texture change as you chew?
- How does the food taste? Be descriptive. Is it sweet, salty, sour?
If you follow the above steps, you should be cued in to your body and its sensations while eating. So recognizing when you are no longer hungry when eating should come naturally.
You should eat before you get too hungry, but you want to be hungry enough to have a meal. If your stomach is starting to growl and grumble a bit, it is time to eat. Notice how your stomach feels while eating, remembering to eat slow as it takes 20 minutes for your body to realize it’s full. Once your stomach is no longer hungry, but neutral, slow down your eating even more. When you are pleasantly satisfied with your meal, not feeling bloated or overly full, you should stop eating. If you eat more, you risk getting overly full.
Your challenge this week is to use all 5 steps together at meal time. Your goal is to eat at least one meal a day following these tips. And notice how much better you feel after that mindful meal than your others. Are you less stuffed? Do you feel satisfied with your meal?
Mindful eating will help you not only eat the appropriate amount, which is beneficial for weight loss and weight maintenance, but it also helps you enjoy your meals and time more. Instead of stuffing yourself with a sandwich that you barely even taste while working at your desk, meals become a pleasant experience. You get to taste good food, relax and enjoy just being in the moment.