Mindful eating means you are deliberately paying attention to what you are eating, how you are eating it, where you are eating and why you are eating. You are not distracted by outside influences like TV, smart phones, books or computers. You are focused on only 1 task – eating, and you do so with an attitude of gratitude.
The holidays are a busy time of the year with extra events and racing around searching for the perfect gift. Make an effort to take time out for meals and focus on eating foods packed with nutrition and flavor. Practicing mindful eating techniques can provide you and your family with many healthful benefits like those listed here.
Benefits of Mindful Eating:
- Reduces indigestion
- Lowers blood pressure
- Tunes you into hunger/thirst cues
- Reduces weight gain and risk of obesity
- Increases enjoyment of eating
- Increases appreciation for those preparing your food
How to Eat Mindfully:
- Choose nutritious foods you enjoy eating
- When possible, involve yourself in preparing and serving your food to gain appreciation for the effort involved in making and serving a healthy meal
- Choose a calm environment where you can focus on your eating experience with minimum distractions – avoid radio, TV, disturbing conversations, or eating on the run
- Sit down and enjoy the visual, smell, feel and texture of foods before you start eating
- Take a deep breath before you begin eating, relax your body, and eat slowly while pausing periodically. It helps to put your fork down on the table a couple of times during a meal to help slow down the process further
- Keep your thoughts on the food you are chewing now, not the next bite or what’s for dessert. (Try to chew each bite 10-15 times before swallowing) Do not focus on the next bite until you have swallowed the food currently in your mouth
- Honor yourself and your food experience with gratitude while enjoying this moment of eating
- Tune into your body cues of hunger, cravings, fullness, thirst and listen to your self-talk while eating. Change any negative or accusing thoughts to positive, empowering ones. Keeping a log of when, where, why, and how long you are eating along with thoughts that arise before, during and after you eat can be very helpful to reflect upon when trying to change eating habits and patterns.
Tips for Eating Mindfully in a Social Setting like Holiday Gatherings
When amongst friends and family, we often feel pressured to eat and drink things we don’t normally or eat more food than we would like to. Try these three tips below to remain mindful not to overdo it.
- Eat a healthy snack before you arrive at the party, so you are not famished and eating the first food offered to you. This is a good practice to teach your kids too.
- Always ask for a glass of water before you indulge in an alcoholic beverage or glass of punch. This will quench your thirst and allow you to enjoy sipping your special, and most likely, more caloric beverage slowly.
- You have the option to enjoy a social opportunity without eating. If someone tries to get you something to eat, tell them you would feel uncomfortable if you ate when you are not hungry. Enjoy a beverage, and reassure the host/hostess that the food looks great and that you would be happy to take some home, and then ask for recipes.
- When choosing foods to eat at a gathering, enjoy small tastes first to see what you would like to eat more of.
- Practice the mindful eating techniques mentioned above.