Mindful eating is about paying attention to the process of eating, in the very moment that you eat. It offers present moment awareness of eating and a way to become more aware of:
Why do it and is there any evidence?
Some research suggests that mindfulness-based approaches to eating can help people to foster healthy eating habits, including choosing healthier foods and portion sizes. It’s thought that it may help you to maintain a healthy weight and some research also suggests that it may be effective in the treatment of binge eating and reducing obesity. But, before we can make any firm conclusions about its uses and how effective it is, more, high-quality research is needed.
Should I give it a go?
Now you know a little bit more about mindful eating, should you try it? Ask yourself the following questions. If you answer ‘yes’ to the majority of these questions, it might be worth giving mindful eating a go.
- Do you continue to eat when full?
- Do you eat when you’re not hungry – perhaps out of boredom or in response to your emotions?
- Do you multitask when you eat – examples include working at your desk, watching TV or browsing the internet while you eat?
- Do you play with your food; picking at it, not really eating much and then snacking shortly after your meal?
- Do you feel inclined to eat everything on your plate?
- Do you reach for the next bite before you’ve finished what’s in your mouth?
How do I do it?
So you’re thinking of trying mindful eating, but where do you start?
There are lots of different approaches to mindful eating, but you might like to start by listening to my podcast on how to eat a satsuma mindfully. This is just one example of a mindful eating practice. It’ll help you to slow down and learn to give food your full attention by noticing how it looks, smells, tastes and feels. Grab a satsuma, pop in your ear phones and follow the step-by-step instructions. Can you eat a satsuma mindfully?
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When you’re familiar with the exercise you can apply it day-to-day to the foods you eat at home or at work. Remember that mindful eating is all about paying attention to the process of eating to increase your awareness of it. So, remember to take it slowly and give your food your full attention. Remove any distractions – turn off the TV and remove any laptops, phones or tablets.
I’m struggling to get to grips with mindful eating – is there anything else I can do to help?
Although mindfulness is a simple concept, it’s not always easy – and the same goes for mindful eating. It’s thought that one way to help you adopt a more mindful attitude towards food is to record your thoughts and feelings using a food diary.
At each meal, use a diary or notepad to write down how you feel before and after you eat. For example, do you feel stressed before you eat or are you excited? Do you feel satisfied or perhaps bloated, guilty or full after eating? At the end of each week, review your diary.
Recording how you feel and reflecting on this gives you the opportunity to notice your response and actions around food. You may notice that you tend to comfort eat, or over eat at meal times. It can also help you to notice when you feel good and satisfied after eating. This brings awareness to your eating habits and gives you the opportunity to make conscious choices around how, what and when you eat.
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