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Transform Your Relationship with Food with Mindful Eating

By Annette Demeny

With today’s society of fast paced EVERYTHING, eating has become mindless. Why does this matter? Mindlessness creates problems with poor food choices, unhealthy eating behaviors, over consuming and binge eating. This can lead to eating disorders, obesity and an overall bad relationship to food. According to a 2011 report from the US Department of Agriculture, the average American spends 2 1/2 hours a day eating but more than half that time, on electronic devices, watching television, driving or working. This lack of awareness contributes to many health issues and obesity. It’s important to use mindful eating to bring your focus to the experience of eating as well as, what we are eating.

What is Mindful Eating?

Mindful eating is using the mind to reach a state of full attention of the present moment, while calmly acknowledging your cravings, your thoughts and body sensations. This helps you create more awareness, positive thoughts and emotions surrounding food and eating. Mindfulness takes practice just like any other habit or life change. To learn more about mindfulness, head over to my post 25 Ways to Add Mindfulness to Your Daily Practice.

 

Here’s a few simple steps to get you started ~

  • Get to know your body’s hunger signals. Is your energy low? Feeling lightheaded?

 

  • Turn off all electronic devices (TV, cell phone, computer)

 

  • Take a few deep breathes before you start eating and throughout your meal. This helps in slowing down the mind.

 

  • Eat at a table or even outside in nature

 

  • Take notice of what your food selection is. Did you choose healthy options? By paying attention to what we eat, you may indulge in less cheeseburger and fries.

 

  • Engage all your senses by noticing smells, tastes, textures, color and sounds

 

  • Pause for a minute before you eat to silently express gratitude for the food and the people you may be enjoying your meal with.

 

  • Take small bites and put utensil down between each bite

 

  • Chew your food 20-40 times, according to what you are eating. The body sends its satiation signal about 20 minutes after the brain. Slowing down, we can let the body catch up with the brain.

 

  • Stop eating when you are full

 

Mindful eating has been shown to reduce:

  • Emotional Eating – eating in response to your emotional needs such as; stress, boredom, sadness, and loneliness
  • External Eating – eating in response to your environment or food-related cues (smells)

It’s important to listen to hunger cues when determining when to eat. Instead of being on a strict, rigid schedule, mindful eating allows you to recognize when your body is truly hungry so then, you can eat accordingly.  This will give you the power to determine non-hunger triggers (stress, smells) so you can better understand your relationship with food.

Food is not only for nourishment but it is about connection, culture, experience, celebration and pleasure. Take time to cook at home and create a positive awareness around food.

Your next step is to put this into practice. With time, mindful eating will be your new healthy habit!

 

SFY Recommends

25 Ways to Add Mindfulness to Your Daily Practice

 

Let’s get started! What’s one thing you want to try today and practice this week? Let me know…

 

 

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