Mindful Monday; Mindful Eating
Hard to believe October is almost over – this is our last Mindful Monday of October which means we are moving into Holiday season. Holiday season brings so much stress normally and this year will be amplified. We have just a couple weeks to establish a strong habit that will help keep us healthy and grounded and I thought the perfect mindfulness habit would be Mindful Eating! This is a habit I have helped hundreds of people establish with wonderful results that spill over into many areas.
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is exactly how it sounds – be mindful and present in the moment as you consume food. Sounds simple, but most of us mindlessly eat all day long, which leads to so many subtle negative side effects; from digestive issues to consuming excessive calories. The benefits of mindful eating extend beyond good digestion and consumption of fewer calories however; helping to re-center yourself, naturally practice gratitude (Benefits of which we talked about last week – check it our here), and being in control of our food choices by becoming conscious.
How to Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating can be practiced by following these simple steps with at least one meal each day to start.
1. Always sit down at a table to eat.
- Make it an important ritual, not something that is done while standing at a sink, an open fridge, or while doing chores. Block out a minimum of 20 minutes – no phones, laptops, or reading/distracting material. The ONLY exception to this is through virtual meals with loved ones – while socially distancing, we can Facetime at a coordinated time to sit and eat with family/friends.
2. Take a minute to register where you are on the hunger scale.
- 1 means you are not hungry at ALL – as a matter of fact, you are SO FULL you may need to adjust your pants or lay down because you are uncomfortable and can’t possibly eat another bite. 10 means that you are starving – it has been hours since you last ate and you are so ravenous that you feel like you could start eating your own arm. Ideally you want to remain in the 4-6 range. Never allowing your hunger to get out of control, but not eating to the point of feeling sick.
3. Observe your food
- How does it look? Smell? Build the anticipation of what to expect, how much you will enjoy it, and how grateful you are for the meal.
4. Take your first bite.
- Immediately put your eating utensil down and focus on how the food feels in your mouth & how it tastes. Count how many times you chew your bite. Your goal here is 20 -30 minimum, ultimately the goal is 50 chews per bite but I know most will not reach that goal. Use common sense, you obviously will not be chewing yogurt 50 times, not even 20 times; but for most foods, this is the goal. The first part of digestion takes place in your mouth and when we fail to chew our food properly, we end up with digestive issues. Many times doctors will prescribe prescription medications for digestive issues when all we need to do is chew our food.
5. Repeat step 4 until you are halfway finished.
- At that time, check in once again on the hunger scale. How has your hunger changed? Are you still hungry? Or are you eating simply to clean your plate or because it tastes good? Make the choice as to whether or not you want to continue. (The key here is that it is your choice, not a subconscious action)
6. If/when you finish what is on your plate, check in yet again on the hunger scale.
- If you are still feeling hungry (7-10), then do an activity for a few minutes (This is when I would do the dishes/clean up from meal prep) and then if you still feel hungry, go ahead and have a second helping, repeating the same steps as above.
*TIP* This will be even more effective if you switch to using smaller plates – our eyes will perceive it as being more food we are consuming than if we had the same amount on a larger plate with lots of empty space on the plate. This helps us to feel more satisfied rather than feel deprived.
Give It A Try!
I hope you give this mindfulness exercise a try – and when you do, please let us know how it worked for you! I would love to know what parts of it you will be incorporating into your everyday life. If you have tips for others on how to practice mindful eating, please share them in the comments here or on our Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram post!
With Love & Gratitude,