Most of us live to eat instead of eating to live. There’s no need to hunt in the wild or forage just to enjoy three delicious meals a day.
But while it’s incredibly convenient to have readily available food, we have unconsciously incorporated an unhealthy habit into our daily diet: mindless eating.
Eating is second nature to us, so it’s no wonder why many people gobble up their food without a second thought. Sadly, this leads to poor food choices, weight gain, and added stress, among other health consequences.
A solution to this problem? Mindful eating–or the art of eating with awareness. Here are five ways to get started on a mindful eating habit.
Listen to Your Body
Like most mindfulness techniques, mindful eating means becoming aware of each piece of food you put in your mouth.
To do this, focus on your body’s needs and try to differentiate them from what you want. In other words, you have to distinguish physical from emotional hunger.
More often than not, we think that cravings are a way of our bodies telling us what they need. But you should know that what we crave isn’t always good for our health.
Here’s our tip: don’t let stress, boredom, and other emotions dictate your food choices. And (while this may sound counterintuitive to being mindful) tune in to your body, not your mind.
Do Not Skip Meals
One of the main causes of mindless overeating? You’ve already reached the peak of hunger before you start digging in.
Rather than enjoying your meal, you intend to fill up the void and satiate your hunger.
To avoid this, you have to stick to a regular eating schedule. That way, you can prevent yourself from impulsively eating more than you have to.
Start Eating with an Intention
Before giving in to the temptation of opening that bag of chips, ask yourself: are you just seeking emotional comfort through food? Or are you satisfying your hunger through bad food choices?
Mindful eating starts in the kitchen. So fill your shopping cart with produce and other healthy choices instead of getting processed food. You might also want to consider the nutritional content of each meal.
And if you’re craving something sweet or/and salty, you can easily find a wide range of healthy alternatives online. Want a bowlful of ice cream? Replace it with yogurt. Sweet tooth gnawing at you? Take a bite of a juicy apple or some dried raisins.
When it comes to eating deliberately, it’s all about choosing nutrition and surrounding yourself with healthy choices.
Appreciate Every Bite
Here comes the (arguably) fun part: eat slowly. Chew thoroughly, savor every bite of your meal, and see how it leaves a more satisfying feeling in your stomach.
If you’re having a hard time eating slowly, you may want to replace your plate and fork with a bowl and a pair of chopsticks. Using chopsticks can slow you down and help you take smaller bites.
As you indulge in your dish, take time to contemplate how you feel. Are you feeling full already? Then it’s time to stop eating. Not so full? Continue eating slowly.
Again, you have to listen to your body’s signals–before, during, and after every meal.
Pay Attention to Your Dish
Indulging in the taste, texture, and aroma of your meals will not only help you eat more mindfully–it’ll also let you appreciate every bite even more.
And as much as possible, try to avoid eating in front of the TV or multitasking in any form. Instead, focus on what’s in front of you.
By living in the present as you eat, you can enjoy a better dining experience and the ultimate satisfaction with every meal. So go ahead and eat mindfully–the reduced weight and stress, among other benefits, are sure to follow.
Woodhaven at Park Bridge in Alpharetta, GA