So many people feel torn between a love for food and a desire to be healthy. We’re confused by all of the conflicting nutrition advice out there. And, if we’re honest, many of us think about food way more than we’d like.
Working as a health coach over the past three years, I’ve seen these struggles play out over and over again with my clients. Eating is a confusing and difficult endeavor for many — but it doesn’t have to be. Enter mindful eating.
What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating involves the concept that there is no right or wrong way to eat. Rather, we should focus on being aware of our eating choices and why we make them. We should also focus on our awareness throughout the eating experience. Mindful eating has so many benefits:
- It reduces overeating.
- It can lead to weight loss and maintenance.
- It promotes a healthy body image and appreciation.
- It increases your intuition regarding your health and your body. When you listen to your body more, you learn more about its needs!
- It gives you greater control over your reactions to cravings and food-related thoughts and images.
Do you eat while you watch TV, check your phone, or browse on your computer? Have you eaten past the point where you were satisfied and suddenly you felt stuffed? Have you ever indulged in something delicious only to realize that you gobbled it up so quickly that you hardly even paused to enjoy it?
These are all signs of mindless eating. And we should avoid this habit for so many reasons:
- It can lead to overeating.
- It often promotes unhealthy food choices.
- It takes away from the pleasure we’re supposed to experience while eating.
- It does not promote a healthy, balanced, stress-free lifestyle.
Become a more mindful eater:
- Practice gratitude. Take a moment to be thankful for the food in front of you and all the hands that had a part in bringing it to your table. If you are spiritual, say a prayer of thanks for all the good things in your life. These moments can give you a more serene mindset that allows you to fully immerse yourself in the eating process.
- Eat with all of your senses. Eating is meant to be experiential and sensory. Focus on the look and smell of the food before you even take your first bite. Enjoy the satisfying sounds your food makes as you cook and eat it. Notice the feel of the food in your mouth. And really appreciate the flavors you experience with each bite.
- Chew more. A nice goal for most foods is about 20–30 chews per bite. Chewing more brings out the flavors in your food; it slows down the eating process so you can appreciate it more and recognize when you are full; and it aids in digestion so you feel better after the meal. You can even jumpstart your mindful eating practice by using chopsticks, which will naturally slow you down.
- Minimize distractions. Turn off the television and put away your phone. Focus on the food in front of you and enjoy conversation with those at your table.
- Elevate the eating experience. Create an environment that is conducive to an enjoyable eating experience. Sit down at the table, turn on some quiet music, light a candle, and use dishes that feel luxurious. Just make it feel special.
Here are some of my favorite products that help create a more mindful eating experience:
For more information on mindful eating, check out my book, Meant to Eat: A Practical Guide to Developing a Healthy Relationship with Food, available here.
By Lindsay Reinholt with Ben Higgins
What healthy eating tips do you want to learn more about? What works for your body?