Mindful eating tips to help you pay attention and appreciate the food you eat – both as an everyday practice and to help reset after holiday indulgences.
The gooey baked brie. The sinful chocolate truffles. The holiday cookies I just can’t resist.
Enough already! I’ve been inhaling sweets, treats and loads of wine for way too many months now. It’s time for a change!
It’s time to turn to mindful eating to get back on track with healthy eating and start appreciating what I eat instead of stuffing my face.
What is mindful eating?
To eat mindfully means to slow down. Pay attention to what you are eating. Look at it. Chew it slowly. Taste it. Appreciate it. It’s about having a relationship with your food instead of just inhaling it. Mindful eating is not about dieting although it may indeed help you to eat less. Mindful eating is not the same as meditating although it may help you to feel more relaxed. At its core, mindful eating is about being in the present moment with the food you eat so that you will appreciate it and enjoy it to its full extent.
Mindful eating tips
- Sit down – It’s a lot harder to eat mindfully when you are standing up or eating on the run.
- Use a plate – Serve yourself a portion of food and stick to it, instead of eating straight out of the carton or bag.
- Try chopsticks – Eating with chopsticks or smaller utensils slows you down.
- Avoid multi-tasking – Just focus on eating. Don’t read, work or talk while you eat (I know, that’s almost impossible for me too).
- Spend time chewing – Some recommend chewing each bite 25 times but if that seems too much, just chew more than you usually do.
- Put down your fork – Placing your fork on the table after a bite helps you be more mindful of when you take the next one.
- Drink water – Take a sip of good old H2O in between bites. Not only is it good for you but will help you slow down your food intake.
- Plan your meals – Knowing what you are going to eat next helps to reduce mindless grabbing from the snack cabinet.
How it works for me
A big part of mindful eating for me it to pay attention to my habits and my cravings. I have a tendency to eat without thinking….to snack while packing the kids’ lunches, to munch while making dinner and to grab treats out of the cupboard whenever I feel the slightest craving for something. And I have wicked cravings. Especially for salt and sweets (and sometimes for brussels sprouts, but I’m not worried about that).
Here’s how I’m working on being mindful right now:
- Caffeine – I’m really enjoy that first cup and then thinking twice about having a second. If I’m tired in the afternoon, I try a few jumping jacks to rev up my energy. If I’m cold, a cup of herbal tea is perfect. If I’m thirsty, water will do.
- Sugar – No more Christmas cookies. No more candy. If I need something sweet, I’m trying to stick to yogurt, dried fruits (dates are my fav!) or chocolate soy butter on a banana. I’m paying close attention to my sweet cravings because I know that much of the time it’s just habit kicking in….and I totally get the value of breaking habits.
- Salty Foods – Salt cravings are the worst. I feel like I just have to have something salty or I will die. I’m pretty sure that when I’m craving salt, it means I’m thirsty but drinking water doesn’t necessarily make the craving go away. To appease my senses, I allow myself a small handful of nuts – almonds, cashews or whatever I’ve got. I also love to sprinkle a handful of sunflower seeds on salads or roasted veggies. Yum!
- Processed foods – Doing my best to stay far away from packaged foods of all types.
- Alcohol – Aside from one work party this week, I’m steering clear of the swill. If I feel like a need a “reward” after a long day, I’ll treat myself to some TV.
- Snacking – I’m working hard to avoid those mindless snacking moments. It’s hard!
Buh bye baked brie and truffles. Hello healthy!
Do you practice mindful eating? I’d love to hear how it works for you!
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(Image credit: Chiat’s Run via flickr cc)