Top 7 Facts About How To Eat Mindfully

Although technically it’s been used for ages, mindfulness as a meditation technique has definitely been trending as of late. There are scads of books, videos, and blogs about mindfulness and how to harness its health-boosting powers in a wide variety of scenarios. 

One of those scenarios is while eating, otherwise known as mindful eating. It’s a biohack for people with eating issues and other disorders related to food use to cope with their destructive eating habits. It’s also the subject of today’s blog. This information may help if you or someone you care about has food issues, obesity problems, or other food-related issues.

1- Mindful Eating is an Offshoot of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is when you’re fully there, aware, and involved, with no outside distractions, no matter the situation. For example, when reading a book to your child, you’re 100% with them and in the moment. No smartphones, of course, but also no thoughts about, well, anything else. Just you, your child, and the story on the page.

Mindful eating is very similar. When you eat mindfully, you pay attention to everything about eating. The smells and tastes. The way the food feels in your mouth and the way the utensils feel in your hand. It’s about experiencing the act of eating, rather than just rushing through it aimlessly.

2- Mindful Eating Is Also About Why You’re Eating

There’s no denying that, in the United States, we have an obesity problem. One of the reasons why is simply that we’re under a continual barrage of eating cues and triggers. Commercials, ads, billboards, and more have made us almost immune to the fact that eating is more than just stuffing food down our throats.

That, in itself, has caused a problem. Many of us don’t think about what we eat, or why we’re eating, nearly as much as we should. We just blindly heed the call (or get fired up by a trigger) and scarf down whatever’s most convenient.

Mindful eating forces you to slow down and make some observations: Are you genuinely hungry or not? Are you eating because you’re bored, or because of some other emotion? Is the food you’re eating healthy? When you eat mindfully, you have to ask these questions and, if necessary, start to change your eating habits.

3- Many Of Us Have Eating Triggers

Like a word that can make someone angry (the ’n-word’ for example), many Americans have emotional triggers connected with their desire to eat. These triggers are connected to emotions, memories, and more and, when they go off, all-you-can-eat buffets better beware. Smells can be a powerful trigger, as well as visual cues. (Billboards, for example, are surprisingly effective at selling fast food.) The truth is, we live in a world filled with eating triggers and, even worse, a wide range of dining choices to indulge them. That’s a bad combo on anyone’s menu and has led, in large part, to America’s obesity problem.

With mindful eating, you can begin to recognize these triggers and, in time, diffuse them. It’s not an overnight, one-and-done solution, by any means, but many have found that it works very well. Experts recommend creating a ‘safe space’ between yourself and your food triggers. That way, you’ll have more time to think about your options and make better choices.

4- Mindful Eating Uses Several Different Techniques

Like mindfulness itself, when you eat mindfully, there are a few basic ground rules. It may take some time to master them, but like anything worthwhile in this life, practice and determination pay off. Once you’ve mastered the techniques, however, you’ll reap all the health benefits mindful eating brings. (More on those in just a bit.)  Mindful eating techniques include:

  • Paying close attention to your body’s hunger cues, especially the signal that you’re ‘full.’
  • Taking time to smell, taste, and chew your food thoroughly, without rushing. Use all of your senses, including touch and sound.
  • Putting all distractions aside. No TV, no phone, not even music. It’s just you and your food.
  • Appreciate the food you’re eating. That includes the farmer who grew it, the truck driver who delivered it, and the store clerk who bagged it for you. After all, it takes the effort of quite a few people to get all those groceries to your local store! 
  • Do your best only to eat when you’re hungry, not bored, angry, upset, or otherwise emotionally undermined. 
  • Eat more slowly. (In some cases, you may have to eat much more slowly, especially if you have a habit of ‘wolfing down’ your food.)

5- Mindful Eating Means Asking Yourself Tough Questions

If you have an eating disorder, you’re obese, or you’re out of shape, and food is partly to blame, mindful eating can be difficult, at least at first. Not physically, of course, but emotionally. Many people overeat due to painful experiences and memories. Learning how to deal with those experiences and memories can take time, but mindful eating can help.

6- It’s Best to Pick One Meal Per Day To Mindful Eat

Mindful eating takes time and energy; it’s true. Yes, you can practice it at every meal if you like but, rather than taking it to the extreme, we recommend eating one meal per day using mindful eating techniques. That way, you can ease into it and, hopefully, continue practicing it for as many days as it takes to get excellent results.

The good news is that, like anything you practice, in time, you’ll become a mindful eating expert. Your health will improve, you’ll lose weight, and, in many cases, your emotional attachment to food will wane and then cease to exist.

7- Mindful Eating Can Help Prevent Binge Eating

Binge eating is when, for one reason or another, a person starts eating for no apparent reason and then continues to eat and eat and eat. As you might imagine, it’s very unhealthy and can easily lead to obesity, atherosclerosis, diabetes, and other devastating health problems.

When you practice eating mindfully, you can begin to cut down on binge eating and cut down on the health problems it brings. It empowers you to deal with your emotional impulses better and helps you control them instead of vice-versa.

Last Words

In today’s fast-paced world, many of us have forgotten the joys of food and replaced it with going through the motions. This has led to widespread problems in the U.S and many other countries. If you’re a slave to food and looking for freedom, mindful eating can be your way out of food bondage. It will help you make better, healthier food choices. More importantly, mindful eating can help you once again enjoy all of food’s many delights (without destroying your health in the process).

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