Mindfulness has become a major buzz word in wellness circles in the last few years. Meditation and colouring in may not be your thing, but mindfulness certainly has its place in everyday aspects of your life that you may not have previously thought of.
Mindful eating is something we have spent a lot of time talking about, and it is something the first week of our Summer Wardrobe Challenge focused heavily on. It isn’t just about weight loss, it’s about a healthy body image and healthy consumption. There are elements of learning not to punish yourself for indulging in that occasional dessert, and elements of learning to appreciate your food as it nourishes your body, rather than gulping it down as yet another part of your life you are rushing through.
Some steps for mindful eating:
● Start by recognising whether you’re hungry before you begin eating. If you aren’t hungry, you won’t be as interested so it will be harder to stay focused. Besides, if a craving doesn’t come from hunger, eating will never satisfy it.
● Don’t wait until you’re famished. One of the keys to conscious eating is to keep your body adequately fed to avoid becoming overly hungry which increases the chance that you’ll overeat.
● Next, decide how full you want to be when you’re finished eating. When you eat with the intention of feeling better when you’re done eating, you’re less likely to keep eating until the food is gone.
● Choose food that will satisfy both your body and your mind. Our society is so obsessed with eating right that we sometimes eat things we don’t even like. However, satisfaction comes not just from fullness but from enjoying the taste of your food–without guilt. Feeling guilty about eating certain foods actually causes more overeating, not less.
● Eat without distractions. If you eat while you’re distracted by watching television, driving, or talking on the telephone, you won’t be giving your food or your body’s signals your full attention. As a result, you may feel full but not satisfied.
● Eat when you’re sitting down. Choose one or two particular areas at home and at work that are only used for eating and eat only there. For example, do not eat while standing over the sink, peering into the refrigerator or sitting in bed.
● Appreciate the occasion. Appreciate the atmosphere, the company, or simply the fact that you’re giving yourself the opportunity to sit down and enjoy your meal.
● Take a few breaths and centre yourself before you begin eating. This will help you slow down and give eating your full attention.
● Appreciate the aroma and the appearance of your food. Notice the colours, textures, and smells of the food and imagine what it will taste like.
● Savour the aromas and tastes of your food as you eat it. Put your fork down between bites and be conscious of all the different sensations you are experiencing.
● If you notice that you’re not enjoying what you choose, choose something else if possible. Eating food you don’t enjoy will leave you feeling dissatisfied.
● Pause in the middle of eating for at least two full minutes. Estimate how much more food it will take to fill you to comfortable satiety.
● Push your plate forward or get up from the table as soon as you feel satisfied. The desire to keep eating will pass quickly. Keep in mind that you’ll eat again when you’re hungry.
● Notice how you feel when you’re finished eating. If you overeat, don’t punish yourself. Instead, be aware of the physical and/or emotional discomfort that often accompanies being overly full and create a plan to decrease the likelihood that you’ll overeat next time.
The most important thing to remember is that eating should almost be a form of meditation. The relationship you have with food will channel back into the energy you have, and above all the time you give yourself to look after your body!
Sometimes with busy work and family schedules, these tips can be hard to remember. But it can be as simple as returning to the age-old meal time, where the family sits down together and makes it an important aspect of family life. Actually take your lunch break! Even if it is just half an hour, you can put all of the above tips into practice, while getting yourself some sunshine and fresh air.
However you choose to adapt these tips to your life start small, bite off a chunk you know you can chew, and then slowly change your habits. Don’t overwhelm yourself by changing your entire lifestyle and then fall off the wagon a week later, you will only punish yourself for it! Go easy, just by making these small changes you are already doing great things for yourself!