Tips to Eat More Mindfully
What does it mean to eat mindfully? Mindful eating is about using mindfulness techniques to reach a state of full attention to your experiences and cravings, as well as to recognize your physical cues when eating. We can lose track of our hunger cues in many ways such as during times of distraction and stress.
So, how do you know when you’re truly hungry? The most common sign is the sound of your stomach growling but there are many other ways to know if you are hungry such as, lack of energy, headache, grumpiness, fatigue, & weakness. Fueling your body with healthy foods keeps you energized and alert. If you haven’t eaten in a few hours, you may notice that you’ll have a hard time concentrating and staying focused on your tasks at hand. It’s important to recognize these hunger cues to eat when you are hungry but also to avoid eating when we may just be distracted, bored, or stressed.
Here are some tips to eat more mindfully & to create healthy habits with food:
- Avoid Distractions:
Eating in front of the television or while your brain is distracted can lead to overeating. If you are distracted, you are also less likely to enjoy tasting and experiencing the food on your plate. One minute you will have a full plate, and within moments you will look down and it will be gone! Try to turn the television off, disconnect from your phone/tablet, and enjoy your meal.
- Notice the effects that food has on how you feel and your overall mood:
There are many foods that taste so good in the moment that just don’t sit well afterwards. Food can affect your mood, emotions, energy, and sleep. It’s important to recognize which foods are feeding your energy and which foods may make you feel sluggish. For example, after a healthy balanced meal, we tend to feel ready to go out and about with our day. After a heavy, unhealthy meal (e.g. packaged junk foods, takeout fast food, etc), we may feel a bit more sluggish, tired, and ready to hit the couch! Recognize which foods fuel your body with good energy & leave you feeling happy after – try to eat more of those foods.
- Work to distinguish real hunger cues versus non-hunger related cues
Sometimes when we are not truly hungry, external factors can drive us to eat. Eating in response to these external factors rather than your body’s true hunger cues, can lead to overeating. Some factors that can influence our eating behaviours are stress, fatigue, boredom, or the sight/availability of food. Before diving into the snack drawer, think consciously about how you are feeling and whether you are truly hungry. Try doing a body scan and taking a few deep breaths before reaching for a snack.
- Put your utensils down between bites to slow down your eating time
Putting your utensils down between bites gives you more time to taste your food and enjoy the experience. It will also slow down your eating so that your brain can catch up to your body’s physical cues & let you know when you are full to avoid overeating.
- Stay hydrated
It’s important to drink lots of fluids throughout the day to ensure that you are properly hydrated. This will help to avoid overeating and snacking.