Scarfing down breakfast on your way to the office and eating dinner cozied up on the couch in front of your favorite TV show. Sound familiar? You’re paying attention to everything but your food. All of the distractions in our lives can make us forget what we’re eating, why we’re eating, and when we’re full. Don’t worry, there’s a solution! Use mindfulness to live more in the here and now, and stay focused while you’re eating.
Mindful eating means experiencing the moment with all your senses, thoughts, and feelings without judging, condemning, or commenting on your behavior. Instead of “can I have another helping?” ask yourself these questions: “Does the food taste good?”, “Does it fill me up?”, “How does my body feel afterwards?”. Mindful eating is about both enjoying the meal as well as providing your body with the nutrients it needs.
Listening more to your body and mind is a worthwhile goal because this awareness is said to have many positive effects. For example, a 2017 literature review reports that mindful eating has been shown to improve eating behavior, with subjects eating more slowly and feeling full faster. Other studies see mindful eating as a solution to emotional eating. It’s important to remember that, to date, there is no single definition of the term mindful eating, and each study uses different criteria to measure this approach. So it’s important to consider these results in the context of each respective study.
In the mood for a challenge? Try enjoying our Protein Bar Extra Choco slowly and with all your attention. It’s not that easy, right? Mindful eating needs to be practiced, takes time, and is a learning process. Ups and downs and setbacks are normal! We’ve gathered some of the most common mistakes to remind you that you’re not alone.
#1 Confusing mindful eating with dieting
Mindful eating is a long-term approach to eating healthy. Eating slowly and with all your senses, chewing thoroughly, and appreciating the meal are just a few guidelines for how to approach meals with more awareness. Make sure you don’t confuse these guidelines with rules, because mindful eating isn’t meant to be a diet of dos and don’ts, but just some ways to help you clear your mind instead.
#2 Thinking in black and white
Let’s get this out of the way: you’re going to go for that box of cookies when you feel like it, and you’re going to eat more than you need to sometimes. And that’s perfectly fine, as long as you don’t judge the situation negatively, just observe it instead. To learn how to listen more to your instincts, check out our article on intuitive eating.
#3 Not taking enough time
How do you approach learning a new sport? By giving yourself plenty of time and regular training sessions. That’s exactly what a more mindful eating pattern needs as well. Remember, as with any change in diet, the goal is to turn this new behavior into a habit.
#4 Failing to fully commit
Sure, setting yourself a timer when you eat and gazing at your food lovingly before it lands on your fork can feel really weird at first. Still, it’s important that you fully commit to being more intentional with your food. If you don’t know how to get started, here’s a little beginner exercise.
To create more mindfulness, start by eliminating all distractions.
- Focus on your food.
- Chew slowly and take your time.
- Take breaks by putting down your fork.
- Finish every bite.
- Eat with all your senses: Pay attention to the color, smell, and texture of your food. What different sounds do you hear?
- Did you like how it tasted?
- Did it fill you up?
- How does your body feel after eating it?
#5 Being too hard on yourself
Whether it’s business lunch with your boss or visiting the in-laws – practicing mindful eating isn’t appropriate for every situation. Don’t be too hard on yourself and remember, just neutrally observing a situation is already a more mindful attitude.
#6 Thinking about that number on the scales
It’s not what’s on the scale that counts, but how you really feel inside. The reason to start mindful eating is not to lose weight but to be more in tune with yourself and your food choices instead. The fact that you tend to choose more delicious and healthy foods as your mindfulness grows, and that possibly makes a difference on the scale, is nothing more than a positive side effect of this dietary shift.
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