Ask yourself this question: how often do you consciously stop and actively think about what food you are putting in your mouth? For many of us, life has become so busy and hectic that it is the norm to eat on the run, snack on the way to work, eat at our desk or serve dinner in front of the television. So how do we train our body to eat mindfully?
Mindful eating can be described simply as being conscious about what you eat and when and where you eat. Sounds so basic, however this can play a vital part in one’s health and in addition can assist in weight loss.
Visualising every forkful of food that we consume a day- every bite, every taste, every texture, every aroma, can make us less likely to overeat and overindulge. By actively thinking about every morsel we consume, we chew slower, which decreases the chance of digestive issues and we will feel full faster, therefore we eat less.
We can train our bodies to eat more mindfully by making a few simple but fundamental changes to our daily routines.
Firstly, take a small portion out of our weekend to think and plan a healthy meal plan for the week ahead. Write out a list of meals, including drinks, snacks and all the ingredients you require. Then write a shopping list and take this with you to the supermarket, sticking only to this list. Don’t go into an aisle in the supermarket if you do not require any products from that aisle. By being prepared, you will be in possession of all the ingredients you require for the week and will be more likely to stick to your healthy eating plan.
Secondly, keeping a food diary can be a great tool to aid in weight loss (and, might I add, a rather revealing one!) You could put pen to paper,or for the more technologically savvy, use an app to record everything that you eat, and add up your calorie intake each day. You will quickly notice any unhealthy patterns in your eating (such as reaching for that chocolate fix every weekday at 3 pm) and you will soon think twice about chowing down on junk food!
Thirdly, alter the location in which you eat. Stop eating in front of the fridge, whilst standing up or whilst in front of the computer or the television. As your brain is distracted by another activity, your brain has difficulty registering that you have eaten, therefore your brain tricks you into thinking that you are still hungry and unsatisfied. Sit yourself and your meal down without any distractions (books, newspapers, televisions) and appreciate the food you are eating. Enjoy the flavours and textures of the food and eat slowly, savouring your food.
A few mindful eating tips to assist you:
- Dish out your own portion of breakfast/lunch/dinner and immediately put the leftover food away out of sight. This will help to prevent you going back for seconds when your body does not need them.
- Be aware of portion sizes of your meals. Eat until you are full, not until your plate is empty and your stomach is so full that you cannot move.
- The only food that should be visible in your house is a bowl of fresh fruit. All other foods should be in the pantry or out of sight to help reduce temptation.
- Eat slowly, savouring what you are eating and put your cutlery down between mouthfuls.
- Remember that it takes a minimum of 20 minutes for the brain to register that it is full. Between finishing a meal and eating again, have a glass of water and ask yourself if you are really hungry?
- Mindful eating is all about the sensory experience- bring all of your senses to the meal. Look at your meal, admire the colours, and savour the aromas.
Always remember that you are meant to enjoy your food and take pleasure in eating. Think of eating as a sensory experience that should be savoured and not rushed.
Good luck on your journey of learning to eat mindfully!