Mindfulness practices call upon us to be present in the moment; to observe what is around us as well as what is happening inside us. Mindfulness can be helpful to people in all different situations, including at mealtimes. Those who tend to overeat may find that they are able to profoundly change their habits by incorporating mindfulness into their daily lives.
It is important to note that mindfulness is not an instant cure for everything that ails us, but rather a means for us to take charge of our lives, and engage in healthier habits. There are many ways that you can practice mindfulness when eating, including…
Experiencing Your Food
So many of us are rushed or distracted during meals. You may find yourself eating in your car, eating in front of the TV, or eating at your desk at work. In these instances, your body’s objective is simply to get food down your throat.
A mindfulness routine encourages you to reduce distractions and actually experience your food. What does it look like? What does it smell like? How does it feel along your teeth and tongue? Even something as simple as taking a few deep breaths between every bite can drastically reduce the amount of mindless eating you do on a daily basis. Simply by taking the time to realize that you are eating can help you feel less hungry, and you are therefore less prone to snacking.
Checking In With Yourself to Determine Your True Hunger Level
Hunger is not an enemy, despite what some diet plans may have you think. Hunger is an important feeling that has evolved over millions of years. However, modern-day humans don’t have a very good sense for how hungry they actually are. They look at it as an on/off switch, when in reality it is a little more like a dial that can be turned up or down.
The next time you feel hungry, try to stop and assess the feeling for a moment. Do you feel a bit faint and shaky? It’s possible that you are very hungry, and your body is reminding you to fuel yourself. Or perhaps you are not actually hungry at all, but simply bored. When you are not paying attention to your hunger signals, you stand a good chance of misidentifying them. But when you stop and pay attention, you can eat when you are actually hungry, and stop eating when the feeling subsides.
Planning Your Meals Thoughtfully
Mindfulness can happen before mealtimes too. Staying mindful while in the grocery store, or in a restaurant can help steer you towards healthier or more appropriate food choices. Furthermore, by taking a mindful approach to meal planning, you can get a feel for how much food you actually need in a day. Many people find that they eat smaller portions and waste less food when they bring mindfulness into their meal planning.
The most important thing you can do when trying to change your habits is to approach yourself with kindness. You should not be eating or working out to “punish yourself,” but rather to fuel and maintain your body in a loving way.