I’ve been talking more and more about mindfulness, mindful eating, and intuitive eating on my Instagram and on my blog, and I’ve felt like we need to unravel and discuss what exactly IS mindful eating and how the heck do you start.
The premise of mindful eating involves FULL attention around your food (what’s that?). No phone, no TV- just paying attention!
It’s through the process of mindfulness and mindful eating that I begin to help clients through the process of intuitive eating (more on a later post). In order to really help you slow down, and stop eating for reasons other than hunger (for the most part) we need to start with mindfulness and awareness.
My wonderful intern Kathleen wrote a “what is” blog post about mindful eating, to help all of you with a few tips on how you can ENJOY your food a little more in the new year. Read on an send me any questions you have. Happiest, healthiest new year to YOU!
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally.” Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, world-renowned meditation teacher
When we act with full awareness, we will more likely achieve what we intend through our actions, and we are more likely to feel fulfilled.
How does this benefit us while eating?
Mindful eating is creating an awareness of how what we choose to eat affects our physical body, our feelings, and our mind. When we eat mindfully, we are fully present and engage all of our senses to savor every bite. This includes our sense of sight, smell, sound, and the texture of the foods we are eating. When we practice this, we are able to notice our mind’s response to these observations, most importantly without judgment. Why is this important? Practicing self-kindness goes hand-in-hand with intuitive eating. It allows you to better enjoy your food and increase your happiness while you eat!
Fun fact: it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full. To enhance satiation (fullness), take smaller bites, chew your food longer, and focus on the attributes of the food.
How many times have you eaten while you were distracted? Whether it be at your desk doing work, studying, watching tv, or maybe in the car when you are on the go. When this happens, we can’t fully appreciate the food we are eating or engage our senses, and we are more likely to overeat.
So, how do we start practicing mindful eating? Here are a few tips to practice to help you get started!
- Sit at a table, not in front of a TV or any electronics to distract you. This way, you are more likely to focus on the act of eating your food and engage your senses rather than staring at a screen.
- Put your fork down between bites. Doing so helps you take your time and eat more slowly.
- Chew your food. Really focus on taking the time to chew what is in your mouth. So often when we are rushing, we barely chew before swallowing!
- Eat in silence, or engage in a meaningful conversation during your meal.
- Practice, practice, practice! It is not going to be perfect all of the sudden. Maybe start by practicing these tips at once meal per day, or try to focus on one tip at every meal for one day and see how it feels.
A fun mindful eating exercise I tried when I first learned about the practice was MINDFULLY eating a piece of chocolate. Sit at a table or desk with a piece of your favorite chocolate. Take the time to unwrap it, and smell the sweetness of it before putting it into your mouth. When you take a bite, let it slowly dissolve, allowing your taste buds to savor the mixture of the chocolate’s creaminess and sweetness.
(Give it a try and let us know how it goes!)
To sum it up simply, mindful eating means slowing down, expressing gratitude for the food we are eating, being satisfied, and bringing awareness to why we eat what we eat. This can help you create a more positive relationship with food and a more pleasurable experience while eating.
About the author!
We’re so excited to have Kathleen interning for us here at ISN! Kathleen graduated from UMass Amherst in May with her BS in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is starting her Dietetic Internship in NYC March 2018! Growing up she knew she wanted to work in a field that allowed her to help others, and as she got older she became more drawn to the health and wellness world. Kathleen knew she found her calling from her very first nutrition class at UMass and knew she wanted to be a RD. She is passionate about leading an active, healthy lifestyle, intuitive eating, and recently acquired her 200 hour yoga teacher certification. Kathleen is so excited to share her passion with all of you!