One of the biggest joys of our day is meal time, but if we are perfectly honest with ourselves we probably blow through that meal we were counting down the hours for without really stopping to enjoy it. This is problematic not only from a psychological standpoint, but also a physical one.
On one hand you probably don’t really remember that meal you plowed through without breathing which is a bummer if you were excited about it in the first place. On the other hand snarfing down your meal most likely means you overate and if that happens too often it can lead to health problems.
So what is a food enthusiast to do? Enter mindful eating. Yes, we are asking you to slow your roll and really concentrate on what you are doing when it comes to mealtime. This will not only ensure you fully experience the joy, excitement and company that a good meal can bring, but that you also are listening to your body and eating only what you need. Below we list some ways you can start to incorporate more mindful eating habits into your daily life.
1. Allow your body to catch up. What we mean by this is your brain is about 20 minutes ahead of your body when it comes to identifying your satiety. While your brain may be signaling you are nutritionally revived, your body takes longer to recognize that signal and if you tend to be a fast eater that means you may end up eating twice as much as you need before your body identifies it is full. This is a relatively easy fix however, but it does require more conscious effort on your part. Simple acts such as sitting at the table to eat, taking smaller bites and chewing them 25 times or more can help give your body time to catch up with your brain. Setting your utensil down between bites is another easy way to slow down and really take in what you are eating and how you are feeling.
2. Learn your body’s signals. Are you actually hungry or are you bored? Are you actually hungry or are you stressed? Are your actually hungry or are your thirsty? Most of us have a hard time identifying when we are truly hungry and in need of refueling. This naturally leads to overeating because we are taking in food that our bodies are not in need of at that moment. This is why it is important to take time to listen to what our bodies are saying. Usually if we are truly in need of food our bodies will make our stomach “growl”, you’ll feel low on energy or even lightheaded. If you aren’t detecting any of those symptoms you are most likely being triggered by an emotional response to something and it will be important for you to identify exactly what that trigger(s) is.
3. An organized kitchen is a healthy kitchen. How hard do you think about what you are bringing into your home from the grocery store? Do you consider where you put your food away in your kitchen? Are the healthier foods in a place where they are handy and you will think to indulge in them over foods with less nutritional value? Those are the kinds of questions that will help you transform your kitchen into a healthy haven where mindful eating takes place. That is not to say you have to plan every last bite down to the minute, but being strategic in your placement of certain foods will help you make better choices and be more mindful of what you put in your body.
4. Be present. We are all guilty of working on a project, watching tv, or reading while eating and frankly the distraction takes us out of the moment making it more likely we will overeat. Doing other things while eating makes it really easy to tune out what your body is telling you and lead to misery later. Stay present. Watch your plate as you enjoy your meal. Take in the different foods, the colors, the textures and even the conversation (if you are enjoying it with another) so that you slow down.