As defined by Lexicon of Food, Mindful Eating is, “The practice of cultivating an open-minded awareness of how the food we choose to eat affects one’s body, feelings, mind, and all that is around us.” This type of practice can enhance the understanding and ability to choose foods that are good for our health and our planet. Mindful eating has completely changed the way I view food. I’ve put together 5 easy steps to help you become a more mindful eater and how it can help you along your health journey.
Step #1: Notice When Mindful Eating Is Needed When I use to dish up something delicious, I liked to finish it all in one bit. I would go up for seconds or thirds because I wasn’t feeling full yet or I wanted to actually taste the food I had previously shoved in my mouth. Eventually, I would end the night with an uncomfortably stretched out belly and a stomach ache. Mindful Eating is not only important when eating desserts and treats, but also when eating meals. The idea of Mindful Eating has implications in every part of your diet from the food you buy to how your body feels after the food is digested. Mindful Eating has helped me slow down and enjoy not only the taste, but the appearance, smells, and texture of the food I am eating.
Step #2: Notice Where Your Food Comes From Sometimes it is every difficult to make the decision to by local when looking at the price tag comparison to mass production chainstores for the same product. However, try to remember that it is NOT the same product. Chainstores ship in most of their products from outside resources and rarely have organic, grass fed, or cage free products. Buying local not only promotes the economy in your community, but also provides you with more nutrient rich and environmental friendlier food. You don’t have to buy absolutely everything local, I know I don’t, but making an effort to by local fruits and vegetables is a start!
Step #3: Notice What You Are Buying One easy way to better your diet and your health is to not buy unhealthy food. Once I made the conscious decision to not by products that I knew were spiked with added sugar and salt, results came a lot quicker and easier. When I bought “cheat” food, I ended up eating that food first and when I went to make myself a decent meal, I wasn't hungry anymore. The next time I would be at the grocery store I would think to myself, “Oh, I’m out of cheat food. I’ll just grab some more.” The cycle would continue and continue until eventually the nutritious food I had gotten originally went bad. I always thought I would need cheat food to survive a healthy diet, but surprisingly after I stopped buying cheat food, I stopped craving it.
Step #4: Notice How Much and How Fast You Are Eating I grew up in a household where if you were done eating last, you were left to clean up after everyone else. Let’s just say our family dinners never lasted more than 15 minutes. Today I still struggle with slowing down while eating. I have this innate desire to shove it all in my mouth in one bite. Eating slowly not only helps the stomach digest the food, but also to lets the tastebuds enjoy the food. I’m not saying that you need to take an hour to eat a cookie, but slow down enough that you aren’t left wondering what that cookie tasted like. Eating slowly will also allow enough time for your stomach to tell your brain that it’s full and prevent the infamous food baby from forming. Slow eating often correlates with less eating, which in relation provides a smaller you.
Step #5: Notice How You Feel After Eating After you've had your fair share of whatever you decided to fill your body with, take a moment to realize how that food made your body feel physically and mentally. For example, after having a cup full of minute white rice my body bloats up like a ballon and I feel sluggish for the rest of the day. However, after eating an orange or apple I feel more hydrated and more apt to complete a workout later in the day. Not every food is going to cause a tangible reaction in your body, but start the notice the foods that do. Avoid the foods that cause a negative feeling and fill your diet with the foods that cause a positive feeling. This step is the hardest because it is difficult to link certain foods with the way your body feels (especially if a long time passes before you feel anything). Start by noticing how an entire meal makes you feel and then use your body like a laboratory. Test out certain foods on their own or in different combinations and record your results. This step may be the hardest, but it is the epitome of Mindful Eating.
Mindful Eating takes a while to get use to and even longer to master. In the end the ultimate goal is health and Mindful Eating is a large step in the right direction. As always if you have any questions about my article or in general you can send me an email under the “Contact” tab. Thank you so much for reading!