This may sound like a strange question, but did you know that how you eat is just as important as what you eat?
Some people are really surprised to find out that how they eat is intricately connected to their excess weight, digestive problems, or irregular bowel movements.
See, changing your diet and upgrading your food choices – that’s the easy part!
Your eating habits on the other hand, they run deep.
If you’re prone to emotional eating, you know this all too well! This is why I always start with telling my clients to upgrade their food choices first before trying to conquer their habits. And while I’m not condoning this type of behavior as healthy, it’s much better to go-to-town on a bag of carrots than on a bag of chips!
Eating mindfully can be challenging. And we all have our excuses.
Demanding jobs, social commitments, family priorities – no time!
Life is stressful, and after a busy day at work sometimes it’s much more tempting to just tune out in front of the television with our food, than to sit down at the kitchen table with no distractions, alone with our thoughts.
Can you relate to this?
If so check out my tips below to help you eat more mindfully.
The first step is just becoming aware of the areas in your own life that could use a little improvement. And remember, the more you practice them the more familiar they’ll become, and the more likely they also become habit.
I just want to add that these habits didn’t always come easy to me either, and some of them still don’t. Certain ones have become routine only because I’ve been practicing them for so long, but others can still sometimes feel like a struggle. Lately, I’ve been placing a lot more effort on #4 – bringing more beauty to mealtime!
Tips to Help You Eat Mindfully
1. Only eat when you’re sitting down. Not walking, running, or standing at the kitchen counter. If you commit to this you’ll notice that by default you do a lot less snacking and nibbling.
2. Only eat when you are truly hungry and NOT by the clock. We’re creatures of habit so it’s really easy to slip into autopilot and simply eat just because you think you should. If you wake up in the morning not hungry don’t choke down a meal just because you think “its breakfast time”. Eating before the body is ready only burdens the digestive system. If you’re at the office and have a scheduled lunch break but don’t feel hungry when the time comes, get outside and go for a brisk walk first then come back to the office and eat your lunch, or, save it for a break later if you have the flexibility in your job to eat when you want.
3. Never eat when you’re stressed, upset or anxious. Take 5-10 minutes to relax first. For example, when you come home after your day at work, try and do something that separates your stressful workday from your evening meal like going for a walk outside in nature, doing a short meditation, drawing a warm bath, or just sitting and relaxing for a few minutes. Even just 1 to 2 minutes of deep breathing can alleviate the tension that causes us to overeat. Not to mention that eating while stressed is a recipe for indigestion – bloating, heartburn, stomach aches. No thanks!
4. Bring on the beauty. Whether you’re cooking for one or you’re cooking for a bunch! Don’t let living alone be an excuse to eat dinner in front of the television every night. Create a lovely space free of distractions. Clear away the clutter, set the table, put down a lovely table-cloth, light a candle, buy some fresh flowers, use pretty dishes, play some soothing music, or whatever else it takes to create a pleasurable and relaxing dining experience.
Perhaps you’re not going to pull out the table-cloth or light a candle at the office, but there are still many little things you can do to elevate your dining experience even at work. For example, you might keep a pretty plate and some nice silverware at your desk so you don’t have to use the plastic cutlery from the staff kitchen or eat your lunch out of a Tupperware container every day. If the weather is nice consider having a picnic in the park with some of your co-workers and enjoy the pretty surroundings. A great excuse to get out of the office!
5. Be thankful. Take a moment and give thanks. You might even give a silent nod to the farmers who helped grow the food you’re about to enjoy. This is a great way to reconnect with what’s on your plate and cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
6. Take at least 20 minutes to eat your meal. By eating slowly with no distractions and savoring each bite, you’re less likely to overeat or want to go back for seconds. When we’re distracted we don’t truly enjoy what’s in front of us, leaving us unsatisfied and oftentimes wanting more!
Do you have any tips or favorite practices that have helped you become more mindful at mealtime? Please share them in the comments below – I would love to hear from you!