November 17, 2016
We all need to eat in order to survive, but how often have you sat down and focused on the meal you are eating?
How many of the following situations can you relate to?
- Eating on the go, during your commute or while working
- Distracted eating, while you're paying attention to phones, TVs or outside noises
- Not having enough time to eat; You're eating one minute and the next you're running out the door to another task
- Not knowing what you're eating
If any of these sound like you, you may benefit from more mindful eating.
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is about enjoying, respecting, and truly tasting the food you eat. Paying more attention to what you're eating, while you're eating has been found to have numerous benefits:
- A decrease in portion sizes and foods with high calories with little to no nutrients (like sweets!): Being mindful about our eating forces us to actually pay attention to the quality, and quantity of our meals and their components. If sweets are your crux or you’re looking to lower your portion sizes, take a look at mindful eating.
- Overall healthier eating: Multiple studies have found that the more mindful a person eats, the more likely they are to choose healthier options. Think about your own meal choices, have you been choosing meals with fresh ingredients, minimal processing, and foods that make you feel good after eating them? Mindful eating may be right for you if you haven't been.
- Helps to reach your healthy weight: If you are more aware of the foods you are eating, you may be more likely to pick healthy foods, eat less calorie dense foods (like sweets and processed foods), and decrease your portion sizes; all of which would lead to a healthier weight!
Practicing Mindful Eating
Here are some tips to get you started choosing your foods:
- Start slow: start with one bite that you will mindfully eat per day. This will help you focus on the process of mindful eating, rather than try to make it a race or competition with yourself. You can increase this at your own pace as the weeks go on and you feel comfortable with the level of mindfulness you have with each bite.
- Choose home-made foods or foods with fewer ingredients, and minimal processing. Knowing everything that is in your food will help you pick out each ingredient taste, texture, and what it brings to the meal.
And here are suggestions for once you are at the table:
- Limit any distractions you may have. This includes turning off any electronics and putting away any reading material.
- Make eating a priority: sit down to eat and give yourself enough time to eat (at least 20 minutes).
- Chew slow enough so that you notice each flavor, texture, and what each ingredient brings to the dish. You may want to close your eyes to do this. How does the bite of food feel in your mouth as you chew? Try to chew one piece of food 30 times. If you’re having trouble eating slowly, use chopsticks or your non-dominant hand to eat.
- Try mindful eating with familiar dishes and see if you can taste or feel something you hadn’t in the past.
- If you have children: show them how to mindfully eat when you are comfortable enough with it. Ask them about each flavor, or make it a game by guessing each ingredient; this can also limit distractions and has been found to help children have a healthier relationship with food.
There are additional resources to help you learn more about mindful eating such as Basics of Mindful Eating from mindful eating expert Dr. Lynn Rossy
Do you have any tips about mindful eating that weren’t mentioned here? Drop them in the comment box below!
Latest Posts Subscribe to the SPE RSS feed
October 16, 2018 by Doreen Garelick, Dietetic Intern
Our intern Doreen attended a food waste summit for restaurants and compiled these tips to help food service operators redirect food waste from landfills.
September 26, 2018 by Doreen Garelick, Dietetic Intern
Ever notice headlines about rapid weightloss? Dietetic Intern Doreen Garelick looks deeper into a recent eye-catching headline to see if there's any truth behind it.