How to Eat Mindfully
By Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD
Mindfulness, or feeling fully aware of the present moment, is a current buzz word in the nutrition world. Learning how to eat mindfully, by removing distractions and savoring the food in front of you, may help improve digestion and alleviate stress. Even more, the greater awareness of foods that stems from mindful eating can lead to better food choices. Optimal digestion, stress reduction, and eating healthier foods are three important factors in achieving weight loss and overall wellness.
In our busy and sometimes chaotic lives, mindfulness often takes a back seat, especially when it comes to eating. Breakfast on the drive to work, a rushed lunch at your desk, and dinner in front of the TV have become commonplace. These habits can lead to eating unnecessary calories with minimal nutritional benefits.
Carving out time to eat mindfully can have numerous benefits for your health and weight loss goals. By following these simple tips, you can begin to incorporate mindfulness into your eating habits.
Have you ever helped yourself to seconds and then felt overly full a half hour later? Your brain takes about 20 minutes to register fullness. Rushing through meals without pausing to let your brain catch up can lead to overeating.
Slow down your eating by setting a timer for 20 minutes, and using that entire time to eat your meal. Put your fork down between each bite, or try eating with your non-dominant hand to slow down your pace. You can even try eating with chopsticks! Whatever utensil you use, be sure to chew your food slowly and fully before swallowing.
Eating in front of the TV is mindless eating. Depending on the nature of the TV program, you may also feel stressed while you eat. As a result, you may not digest your foods as well as you could. This same series of events can happen when you eat while you use your computer or phone, answer stressful emails, work on a project, scroll through social media, or even read the news.
Turn off your electronics and leave your phone in another room during meal time. If you are able to eat with friends and family, enjoy conversation and work together to eat more slowly.
Think About and Savor Your Food
A key aspect of mindfulness is feeling fully aware of your present situation. You can apply this principle to eating by imagining the journey your food took to get to your plate.
Take a few minutes at the beginning of your meal to visualize the seeds used to grow your vegetables, the farmers who raised the animals on your plate, and the process that you or a cook used to put the ingredients together. If you are enjoying a meal you did not prepare yourself, such as a delicious dish from Healthy for Life Meals, try to pinpoint each seasoning or flavor that you taste.
This short visualization practice can help you appreciate fresh, healthy foods and lead you to choose these options over processed food products.
Note from Healthy For Life Meals: We are dedicated to creating meals with exceptional ingredients, so that you don’t have to worry about meal prep! Instead of focusing on grocery shopping and cooking, you can focus on eating mindfully and savoring your food. Get started today.