How many times have you rushed through a meal so quickly that you hardly tasted it? It’s hard to know if you even enjoyed it! I’ve done this countless times.
When we eat mindfully, we pay attention to our food, our body’s cues, and the act of eating. We’re able to savor our food so we need less of it to feel satisfied. Mindful eating can help eliminate excessive snacking, too. That was a big one for me!
My relationship with food began to change when I started incorporating mindfulness into my mealtimes. As a self-care coach for women and a meditation and mindfulness expert, mindfulness is one of the many tools that I teach my clients. It has been life changing for me. I encourage you to give some of these mindfulness tools a try. Here are my 5 best tips for eating more mindfully:
1. Do a quick body scan before you start eating.
I have always been a really fast eater. I mean so fast that I have caught people from nearby tables at restaurants staring at me in the past. Totally embarrassing! When I started paying attention to my meals, I noticed that I often felt a bit of tension in my body before I began eating.
I now release this tension before I eat. I take the time to do a quick body scan from head to toe in order to notice where I am holding stress, breathe into it, and release it. When I do this, I start my meal calmly and, in turn, eat a lot slower. I am then able to notice the flavors and textures of my meal and truly enjoy it.
2. Bless your food.
I take a brief moment to bless my food with a sentence or two such as “I love my food and my food loves me” or “Thank you, Universe, for this nourishing meal.” A touch of gratitude goes a long way and sets the tone of your meal. I take a brief moment to acknowledge how much this food is helping my body stay healthy. I contemplate all the people that helped get this food to me. It isn’t just about the chef. It’s about the farmers, the delivery truck drivers, and the people who work at the store. This is simply another example of how we are all interconnected. It’s hard to bless Doritos and cupcakes, so blessing your food gives you an extra minute to pull out of a bad snack situation!
3. I decide if I even like it!
I like to use the good french fry and the bad french fry analogy. We’ve all had amazingly delicious fries before. They’re piping hot with the perfect amount of salt. They’re worth it! Most of us have also had cold, mushy fries that are 100% not worth it. Those are the ones we eat and feel a wave of guilt wash over us. We wonder why we can’t make better choices.
Now, when I eat something that is anywhere from borderline to downright unhealthy, I take one bite and determine if I like it enough to have more. If I take a bite, love it, and want another, I savor it without beating myself up. If I take a bite and deem it completely not worth it, I stop at one bite.
4. Limit technology while you eat.
Do you waste lots of time on the internet and social media? If so, join the club. I promise you’re not alone! It happens without us even realizing it, right? If we’re mindless during our web binges, just imagine how many chips or chocolate-covered almonds we could pop into our mouth while browsing. We eat much more mindfully when we focus on the process.
Enjoy the taste and smell of your food, put your fork down between bites, and appreciate what you’re eating. I try to make eating my main activity, not something I do while watching TV or scrolling through Facebook. Mindfulness also includes sitting down while eating and never eating from a bag or box. Always decide how much of something you’re going to eat before you start by mindfully portioning it on a plate.
5. The in/out rule.
I believe that life should be full of joy and love. We should have adventures and experiences because they help us expand as individuals. We don’t need extreme dietary restrictions unless there are medical reasons. That being said, I do limit unhealthy items in my diet, but in a way that feels good to me with the in/out rule.
When I’m at home, I eat healthily. I don’t eat anything white like pasta, potatoes, or bread, and I only eat natural, raw sugars like honey. My favorite treat is 72% or higher dark chocolate. I don’t feel deprived at home and I enjoy coming up with creative ways to incorporate lots of produce.
I balance this healthy routine at home with occasional splurges when I’m out. I limit these splurges because it can be a slippery slope. The last time I kept salted caramel gelato at home, I was eating it every day, not as an occasional treat. Now I treat myself outside of my home. If I see a dessert that I want, I have it at a restaurant and don’t beat myself up.
The in/out rule allows me to eat super healthy most of the time without feeling guilty about indulging once or twice a week. It feels sustainable to me, and that feels great.
I encourage you to choose one or two of these tips to incorporate into your routine. See how they feel. I’m confident that you will notice a difference.