Learn how to eat mindfully and have truly conscious meals with these 5 mindful eating exercises
How do you normally eat?
If you’re like most people, you probably prefer to multitask and eat lunch in front of your computer or in front of the TV.
You might even be too busy for an actual sit-down meal and instead grab a granola bar as you’re running out the door.
It’s easy to be distracted when you’re eating, and most of the time you don’t even realize all of your food is gone until you reach for an empty plate. Mindful eating can help you take back mealtime and give your food the attention it deserves.
Mindfulness is when you bring your full attention to an experience, in the moment, without judgment. When you practice mindful eating exercises, you slow down the mealtime process and reconnect with food.
Eating mindfully helps bring awareness not only to the foods you’re eating but how your body feels as well as your emotional state.
A recent study even found that mindful eating can help with weight loss by promoting portion control and make people more in tune with their hunger.
Practice better eating habits with the five conscious eating tips below.
These exercises are sure to help you learn a lot about your body and your food.
1 – Slow down the process
It takes your brain about 20 minutes to recognize satiation signals from your body.
When you eat fast, your brain doesn’t have time to catch up to your body. This is when you end up overeating.
Stop rushing through mealtime and give your brain a chance to register all of the food you’re consuming.
You can slow eating down by chewing each bite of food longer, putting your sandwich down between bites, or eating with your non-dominant hand.
This will keep you from shoveling all of your food into your mouth as quickly as possible. Studies have shown that eating slowly helps avoid overeating, – so use this mindfulness hack!
2 – Eliminate distractions
Cutting out distractions while you eat is another way to help you slow down. If you’re not distracted, you’re more likely to pay attention to your food instead of mindlessly eating bite after bite.
Try sitting at a table and just focusing on your food in front of you. Don’t stare at your phone or your computer.
If you have a book, try putting it down in between pages and taking a couple of bites.
You could even try an eating meditation if you really want to focus.
- To start the eating meditation, take a piece of food and study it. How does it smell? What does it look like?
- Now take a bite and chew very slowly. What do you notice?
- Close your eyes and focus on the sensation of chewing.
- Recognize what you taste as well as the texture of the food.
When you’re done with the first bite, take a second one and follow the same steps as before.
When you’re done, notice how you feel. Are you still hungry? Was the second bite as satisfying as the first?
This mindful eating exercise is the most in-depth form of meal mindfulness you can practice.
Listen to your body
Pay more attention to the signals you get from your body. Pause to actually ask yourself if you’re hungry.
This is particularly important if you find yourself grazing a lot during the day.
By pausing to recognize how your body feels, you’ll be less likely to reach for those chips.
You should also make sure you differentiate between wanting to eat because you’re hungry and desiring to eat because you’re stressed out, lonely, or bored.
If you suspect your craving for chips is motivated by something other than real hunger, try getting up and going for a walk or giving your friend a call on the phone.
Connect with your food
Reconnecting with food is a great way to get in touch with the natural world and your community.
Think about where your food came from and who played a part in getting it to your table.
As you start to think about how your meal was truly created you’ll understand how interconnected we all are.
Mindful eating exercise idea: when you make pasta it may get to your table because you prepared it with your kids, but you got the recipe from your grandmother.
The ingredients could’ve come from the farmers market and are sourced locally, which positively impacts the economy in your area.
By thinking about where your food came from and how it got to your table, you can experience true gratitude and start thinking about how to make more sustainable choices.
Understand why you eat
There are two main reasons why it’s important to understand why you eat.
The first is the most basic, and it’s to provide nutrients to your body.
It’s so important to consume foods that will give your body the energy it needs for the day. You’re more likely to work certain foods into your diet when you understand what they do for your body. Knowing nutrition information about food can help you make more informed decisions when you’re at the grocery store.
Another reason why we eat is to satisfy a craving or as a way to cope with stress.
Stress causes our bodies to release cortisol, which increases appetite. It can also affect food preferences, causing us to reach more often for high-fat foods as well as sugary treats.
When you eat mindfully, you’re more likely to realize your cravings are related to stress instead of hunger and choose to deal with your stress in another way.
How hard is mindful eating?
Mindful eating isn’t meant to be complicated or sophisticated.
If you don’t have time to sit down for your meals a few times a week that’s fine. Don’t beat yourself up about it.
The point is to simply to pay more attention to your food and your body.
You may be pleasantly surprised how much you enjoy mindful eating and all of the things you learn about yourself along the way.