Mindful eating: Practical tips to get you started
| September 20, 2013
When you practice mindful eating, you will begin to notice artificial flavors and additives that are present in many of our foods. Hopefully, you will develop a preference for real, natural unprocessed food, which of course is a very healthy way of eating.
Remember mindful eating takes practice. Your mind will start to wander throughout this journey, and you will need to focus on bringing your attention back to the practice. Over time you will develop a healthy relationship with the food that you choose to consume through the practice of mindful eating. Here are a few practical tips to get started:
1. Empty stomach
The first step to a mindful eating pattern is to eat only when your stomach is (almost) empty, or when you have a slight sense of hunger. This tends to be about 2-3 hours after the last time you had something to eat.
2. The environment
Once you have made the decision to sit down to have a meal, it’s important to dedicate all your attention to the food that you are about to consume:
- Sit down, preferably at a table.
- Set a nice table arrangement that appeals to you visually.
- Remove any external distractions — no television, phone, tablet or computer.
3. Food appreciation
- Breathe in and out a couple of times, to calm your mind and body.
- To begin with, just take a moderate portion.
- Now, focus on appreciating your food. Think about where the food has come from, is it in its natural state or processed/manufactured?
- Appreciate the fact that many people around the world do not have food on their plate.
- Smell your food, taste your food as you chew it. See if you can distinguish the different flavors, experience the texture, acknowledge the temperature of the food.
- Keep staying focused on the food.
- Wait until the food enters your stomach before you take the next bite. Experiencing the food will slow down the speed with which you eat.
- Eating slowly may prevent heartburn, acid reflux, stomachache and some intestinal issues. You will feel calmer and will continue to experience your food in a new way.
- It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to realize that your body is being fed.
- Really chew — about 15-30 chews per mouthful. If this is hard for you, put your fork down between bites. Taking the time to chew your food will help you appreciate all the flavors and textures.
- When eating mindfully, you become more in tune with your body and will learn to stop eating once you’re almost filled up.
- Because you've been enjoying your food, you will find that you feel full quicker than before.
- If you want seconds, ask yourself why. Is it hunger or habit?
- Stop eating when you feel about two-thirds full. Learn how to recognize the feeling of satiety.
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