How to Practice Mindful Eating
Many Americans struggle with their relationship with food. Some people try to take control with strict diets that involve counting calories or restricting food choices. Mindful eating takes a different approach. In invoking your senses, it prompts you to consider your eating choices and behaviors. Understanding how to practice mindful eating can have real benefits, so you may find it interesting to explore the basics.
The Benefits of Mindful Eating
It can take a little practice to get the hang of mindful eating. Why try it? As Healthline explains, it offers several potential benefits:
- Mindful eating can aid with weight loss because it changes the way you think about food and removes the negative associations and stress involved in dealing with it.
- Mindful eating encourages you to slow down and pay attention. This gives you a chance to recognize fullness signals and can help break the habits of binge eating.
- Mindful eating teaches you to recognize real hunger, so you learn to separate out the cues for emotional eating. This allows you to break this habit and find other forms of self-soothing.
- Mindful eating helps you learn to differentiate between the impact of actual hunger and external factors. This lets you take control of your external eating behavior.
Mindful Eating: How to Make It Work for You
How can you practice mindful eating? Many people participate in a class, seminar, or workshop that offers tips and exercises to help them understand the concepts at work. Others chose a do-it-yourself approach. As Harvard Health Publishing indicates, there are easy things that you can try on your own if you’d like to experiment with mindful eating:
- Start when you’re hungry but not starving. The connection between eating and satisfying hunger is vital in mindful eating, so it’s important to be hungry when you come to the table. However, don’t wait until you’re starving. If you’re too hungry, you may forget to pay attention to your body and miss out on the cues that you’re trying to experience.
- Think about your meal’s origins. Before you eat, take a little time to consider the food on your plate. Use your senses of sight and smell to enjoy it. Think about all the work that went into bringing the food to your plate. Feel gratitude for it.
- Keep portions small. Limiting portions can reduce the urge to overeat or rush. Use plates that are no more than nine inches in diameter.
- Engage your senses. Whether you’re selecting ingredients in the store, preparing food, serving a dish, cutting up your food in preparation, or taking a bite, use all your senses. What colors do you see? How do they change? What aromas and flavors are present? What textures are part of the experience?
- Take small bites. Tastes are more vivid and rich when your mouth isn’t full. Take small bites. Savor each one. Put your utensils down between each mouthful so that you can really concentrate on the experience.
- Chew well. Don’t simply chew your food enough to swallow it. Instead, chew thoroughly in order to fully release every bit of potential flavor. Depending on the food, this may mean chewing a mouthful 20 to 40 times.
- Don’t rush. Mindful eating isn’t quick. It takes time and focus. That doesn’t mean that you can’t socialize at all. However, with a greater emphasis on your meal, you should expect to spend at least the first five minutes concentrating mostly on your food.
While it may take a little while to get the hang of mindful eating, once you develop the habit, it can help you have a healthier attitude toward food and nutrition.
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