Mindful Eating Suggestions

Eating mindfully is being aware and attentive to all dimensions of eating, including thoughts, feelings, body responses and clarity of your mind. Mindful eating is about being conscious of why you are eating. It's about learning HOW and WHY you eat, and less about WHAT you eat. As you begin to keep track of what and how you are eating, begin to think about these elements in conjunction with your choices. Tune in to your own inner signals, and you'll know when to pick up the fork - and when to put it down again. Embrace food for exactly what it is: fuel for  the joyous journey of life.

Among many things, mindful eating includes feeling the saltiness of each potato chip on your fingers as you pick it up, and noting the taste of the salt when you put the chip on your tongue. It's being aware of and listening to the loud crunch of each bite, and the noise the chewing makes in your head. As you eat the chips, you take note of the rough texture against your tongue, and the pressure of your teeth grinding together.

When you are so closely in touch with what is going on inside, you know the exact moment you are satisfied rather than stuffed or starving. When you are watchful, you notice how your stomach expands and feels fuller. You experience each bite from start to finish by slowing down every aspect of the eating process to be fully aware of each movement, swallow, aroma and feeling derived from eating.

 

Start by looking at your eating patterns. Use the following to determine how mindful you are of your eating:

  • Ask yourself, on a scale of 1-10, how aware am I at this moment?
  • Am I tasting every bite or am I mindlessly chomping away?
  • Identify whether you are mindlessly snacking or in touch with every single bite.
  • Do I pay attention to my body's feedback (like when it says stop) or do I ignore it? Identify how your body tells you it's hungry and full.
  • Do you eat out of emotional needs or physical ones?
  • Are you motivated by cravings or fear?

 

Use the following activities to become more mindful when eating:

  • Observe the taste, texture, smell, and sound of food. This helps you to pay attention to what you are doing.
  • Learn to know the difference between emotional hunger (stress eating) and physical hunger. Pay attention to hunger pains, a rumbling stomach, your energy level, movement, body posture and muscle tension. If you don't respond, your body could stop giving you important information about how it is doing.
  • De-stress Before Dinner:  Before sitting down for your evening meal, take a moment to relax with deep breathing, listening to a favorite calming CD, or taking a leisurely walk. You will do yourself and your digestive system a favor by eating in a more relaxed state. Stress also tends to cause overeating, so chilling out before your meal will help you better know when to say when.
  • Don't Multitask: Make it a point to avoid doing other activities while you are eating, such as reading a magazine or watching television. You will pay little attention to portion control and you will be less likely to notice when you begin to feel full. Plus, eating while you are doing that activity may become habit: For example, each time you watch television, you will automatically reach for a snack. Watching your favorite show -- what could be a calorie-free treat -- could then lead to weight gain.
  • Chew slower & savor: We don't realize how fast we tend to eat. Most of us eat hurriedly: between errands, in the car, during a work break. Eating becomes just a habit and the faster we eat the less our body's and mind's can register we actually ate something. So you end up still feeling hungry and unsatisfied. By chewing more slowly, your digestive process gets a chance to work properly, you will be able to savor your food, and you'll be more likely to stop eating when you feel sated.
  • Clear the Area: Once you are done eating, take a break in another room. The dishes can wait. Taking a moment to change gears, try reading the paper or petting your dog. This will become a signal that you are absolutely done eating; sitting at the table to peruse the paper or continue a conversation may lead you to pick at leftovers or clean off your child's plate.
  • It's important to get in touch with your emotions. If you don't get a handle on your feelings, sometimes, coping with your feelings is more important that changing the type of foods you eat. Begin to notice feelings that start and stop eating, such as anxiety, guilt, stress, comfort, boredom and pleasure.
  • Be careful with your "should" and "should not" thoughts about food, critical thoughts (I'm so fat!), food rules, "good" and "bad" food categories. Notice how positive and negative thoughts sway your behavior. A thought is just a thought; you don't have to respond to it.

 

The goal is to become diligently attentive to your body, mind, thoughts and feelings as you eat. A conscious awareness and attention to your food choices, your body and its nutritional needs.

  • Nonjudgmental, accepting and compassionate toward yourself and others
  • Nonjudgmental of self and food choices
  • Fully in-the-moment while eating
  • Focused attention. Able to bring attention back when it wanders
  • Alert and observant of thoughts.
  • Able to "let go" of critical thoughts and emotions without reacting
  • Diligently watchful of pre and post eating feelings
  • Food just is what it is rather than categorized as good and bad
  • Mindful eating is an ongoing journey
  • Compassionate toward self and others
  • Acceptance of self and body as you are

 

Mindful eating Affirmations:

  • I accept that my eating and weight concerns are creating emotional distress, discomfort, and suffering in my life.
  • I choose to accept my body and weight as they are at this moment.
  • Committing to accept myself is a choice only I can make.
  • I accept that my genetic inheritance strongly influences my body shape and weight.
  • I accept how important it is for me to eat mindfully in order to live a healthy life.
  • I accept that my worth is not reflected by my weight and shape, but, rather, my worth is determined by who I am as a whole person.
  • Acceptance includes rejecting the cultural and social messages I receive about weight.
  • To accept my body and weight does not mean that I am judging them to be perfect
  • Acceptance only comes from within myself. I don't seek it from the outside.

 

Watch out for these:

  • You eat what feels good in the moment and use food to de-stress, soothe emotions celebrate.
  • Eating is routine and given little attention.
  • Multitasking while eating (watch TV, drive, talk & eat)
  • "Grazing" on food
  • Routinely skipping breakfast or meals
  • Ignoring hunger and body cues (stomach rumbling, low energy)
  • Continue to eat although full (stuffing rather than satiating)
  • Member of the "Clean Plate Club"
  • Disregarding nutrition needs
  • Avoiding physical symptoms of over or under eating
  • "Live to Eat" rather than "Eat to Live"
  • Use "Comfort Foods"
  • Believe you have little or no control
  • Shoulds and Shouldn'ts dominate eating