When you hear the phrase “mindful eating,” what do you imagine? Maybe a tranquil person in monk’s robes eating ever so slooooowly in deafening silence? Mindful eating doesn’t have to be something reserved only for the enlightened. You (yes, you, with the wild kiddos, crammed schedule, and takeout for dinner) can eat mindfully, and your health and wellbeing just might benefit from it. Today I’m sharing three mindful eating practices for real life that you can try today.
What is mindful eating?
Mindfulness is all about the present moment. It’s the state of focusing on the external and internal experiences of the present moment – including what’s going on around you and what you’re experiencing physically, mentally, and emotionally. When we practice mindful eating, we simply apply mindfulness to eating situations, paying attention to the appearance, smells, flavors, and textures of foods as well as your own cravings, pleasure, hunger, and fullness. (Mindful eating can be a helpful tool for intuitive eating. Want to learn more about intuitive eating? Take my free training.)
How can mindful eating practices benefit you?
Mindful eating practices have many benefits, including helping you feel more satisfied after meals, putting you in touch with your hunger and fullness cues, and improving digestion and absorption of the nutrients in the food you’re eating. Studies show that when we’re distracted while we eat, we absorb fewer nutrients from our food!
Ready to give mindful eating a try? Here are 3 real-life ways you can incorporate mindful eating into your next meal.
3 Mindful Eating Practices To Try
You don’t need to completely eliminate distraction to practice this first one. Let’s face it, for most of us that’s impossible! However, you can remove the distractors you have control over. For example, turn off the television, put your phone in a different room, and close your laptop when it’s time to eat. Even if you just do this at one meal a day, that’s a great start.
Breathing doesn’t have to mean a 20 minute meditation. When you sit down to a meal, simply take 1 to 3 deep, clearing inhales and exhales before you begin eating. The breath is an excellent anchor or focal point that helps bring you into the present moment so you start your meal in a more mindful state.
Are you surprised to see this one on the list? I’ve got news for you: you are designed to enjoy food! So, choose foods that you actually like to eat. That in itself will help you to be more present. While you eat, notice how your food smells and tastes. Enjoyment goes beyond just food – take in your entire eating experience. Enjoy the company of others at the table, or enjoy the solitude of eating alone.
One of the most interesting side effects of this mindful eating practice? When you’re present with your food, you might realize that you don’t actually enjoy certain foods that you’re used to, eating mindfully. You might realize that those chocolate kisses are kind of waxy and flavorless, and a square of dark chocolate would satisfy you more. You’ll also get the benefit of soaking in every drop of enjoyment from the foods you do love.
Over to you…
Choose one of these strategies to practice at one meal a day for the next week. If you want to take your mindful eating even further, check out the 5 most important mindfulness practices in this post and get a free copy of my intuitive eating video training.