Mindful eating is a practice that can help you establish a healthier relationship with food and achieve your nutrition goals. In this lesson, we'll explore what it is, the benefits, and how to get started.
A while ago, I slipped into a not-so-mindful habit: I was multitasking while I was eating.
And by that, I mean I wasn’t paying attention to the food going into my mouth and instead was focused on my phone, TV, or work.
I know I am not alone in this.
It’s something most of us do almost daily. We do it to save time, keep ourselves entertained, and just out of habit.
But when I realized what was happening - I made a really important connection with my new “habit” and how unsatisfied I was feeling after meals.
That’s because I barely noticed or tasted anything I ate when I was distracted.
Again, I know I'm not alone in this experience.
When you consider that it takes about 20 minutes for the body to send “I’m full” cues to the brains, you can quickly see how distracted eating can lead to overeating.
Distracted or mindless eating can also lead to ignoring how the food makes you feel – physically and emotionally.
Plus, instead of eating because we’re hungry, we can start to rely on outside cues like our emotions or because we see or smell tasty foods.
Or even because it’s a particular time of day (think dessert after dinner even when you’re full), for entertainment’s sake, or to relieve boredom or other emotions.
This is where mindful eating comes in.
Mindful eating is a practice that involves paying full attention to the experience of eating, with a focus on the present moment. It encourages a non-judgmental awareness of the food, the sensations it produces, and the thoughts and emotions associated with eating.
Simply put, mindful eating is slowing down and paying attention to what you eat when you eat.
The Benefits of Mindful Eating
At first thought, it may be challenging to comprehend the connection between mindful eating and improved well-being, so here are some key benefits:
Improved body composition: Mindful eating can help manage body fat by promoting portion control and reducing overeating. It helps us make more conscious food choices.
Improved Digestion: When we eat mindfully, we tend to chew our food thoroughly, aiding digestion and reducing digestive discomfort.
Enhanced Enjoyment: Mindful eating allows us to fully enjoy our meals, savoring flavors and textures, leading to a more pleasurable eating experience.
Stress Reduction: It can reduce stress-related eating, as mindfulness practices can help manage stress and emotional triggers for overeating.
Better Food Choices: Mindful eaters often make healthier food choices as they are attuned to their body's needs and preferences.
Increased Satisfaction: By eating slowly and mindfully, we may feel more satisfied with our meals, reducing the likelihood of snacking between meals.
Mind-Body Connection: It strengthens the connection between the mind and body, helping us become more aware of how different foods make us feel.
Long-Term Behavior Change: Mindful eating promotes a sustainable approach to nutrition, making it more likely that we will maintain healthy eating habits over time.
Getting Started with Mindful Eating
Here are the basics. Just pick one meal and:
Remove distractions. Close your laptop, turn off the TV, and put your phone out of reach.
Eat slowly, taking time to chew and taste each bite.
Focus on how your body feels with each bite.
Stop eating when you’re full.
And also, before and after you eat, note – without judgment – whether you are truly hungry and whether what you just ate benefits your health, goals, and your well-being.
When you start to tune in, you’ll probably notice that your habits and food preferences begin to change, and you’ll start to make choices that help you feel better and reach your goals faster.
You don’t have to do this with EVERY meal. Just start with one a day and see what happens.
To get something different, you have to DO something different!
Incorporating mindfulness into your daily life can be transformative on your journey towards sustainable change in health and fitness. It's not about quick fixes but rather a profound shift in mindset and behavior.
Learn more about mindfulness and how to practice it in The Mindfulness Workbook and witness the positive impact on your well-being.
Get the tools, support, and expert guidance you need to help you reach your health and fitness goals.
Hey there! My name is Marissa Rivera-Davis, and I'm a certified health fitness professional and founder of Her365 Fitness, a 24-hour studio gym & wellness community for women. I help women find the time and energy to move more and eat better so they can finally achieve the health & fitness goals that matter to them. My mission is to empower women with the skills and support they need to break free from a mindset of limitation & restriction to find pleasure and joy on their path to improved well-being. Learn more here.