You reach for the snacks and before you know it, the bag is almost empty. It’s time for dinner and you open the fridge or pull through the drive-through to throw together whatever is quick and easy. As a result of habits like these, you eat mindlessly. Your health and diet probably suffer for it!
Mindful eating is a smart alternative. By being intentional about what you eat, you can make nutritious choices you (and your body) feel good about. Here’s how to practice mindful eating well.
What is Mindful Eating?
It’s become the norm for most people to eat on the go or base their diets on what is convenient.
Once upon a time, food was something carefully selected and a savored part of the day. Mindful eating returns meal time to its healthier, more intentional roots.
When you are thoughtful about what you eat, and take the time to slowly enjoy a meal that benefits your body, you practice mindful eating. Examples of mindful eating include:
- Sitting down to eat instead of eating on the go
- Taking the time to chew each bite and enjoy the flavor
- Sharing meals with others slowly over conversation
- Paying attention to what you eat, how the food smells, and all the tastes
- Planning ahead so you make thoughtful food choices
Benefits of Mindful Eating
One of the challenges of dieting is changing the way you think about food. Most diets require you to count calories or stick to strict plans. Mindful eating is about perspective instead. So, this practice helps you get to the roots of why you overeat by making you think about why you’re eating at all.
The resulting benefits include:
- An improved relationship with food
- Reduced stress about dieting “right”
- More enjoyment of food, leading to less cravings
- Feeling fuller due to eating slower
- Reducing spur-of-the-moment binges or unhealthy choices
- Limiting the power food has over your happiness
These benefits can potentially add up to weight loss. Plus, they can make it easier for you to change your diet in the long term for the sake of your health.
Tips for Mindful Eating
Since mindful eating is a perspective, not a strict diet, there isn’t a set plan to follow. Use these mindful eating tips to simply begin being more thoughtful and intentional about your eating habits.
- Consider what a food choice will or won’t do for your body
- Plan time to sit and enjoy a meal every day without multitasking
- Take deep breaths before you begin eating
- Try to notice the flavors and smells of your food as you eat it
- Chew slowly and savor food as it settles in your stomach
- Find calm, relaxed places to eat (away from screens!)
- Keep foods that you like around so you don’t feel banned from your favorites
- Share meal time over conversation with others to slow your pace
- Order meals through a meal service program so you think through a menu