Eating mindfully is the practice of being fully present and engaged in the experience of eating. It involves paying attention to the flavors, textures, and appearance of your food, as well as your physical sensations and emotional responses to it. Eating mindfully can help you make better food choices, improve your relationship with food, and enhance your overall enjoyment of meals.
Here are a few ways to practice mindful eating:
Eliminate distractions: Turn off the TV, put away your phone, and sit down at a table to eat.
Take a few deep breaths: Before starting your meal, take a few deep breaths to help you relax and focus on the present moment.
Serve yourself a reasonable portion: Take a moment to consider how much food you need to feel satisfied and serve yourself accordingly.
Pay attention to your food: Take a moment to look at your food, appreciate its colors, shapes, and aromas.
Take small bites: Take small bites and chew your food well before swallowing.
Notice your body’s signals: Pay attention to your body’s signals of hunger and fullness, and stop eating when you feel satisfied.
Reflect on your meal: After you finish eating, take a moment to reflect on your meal, how it made you feel, and how satisfied you are.
Enjoy the process: Most importantly, enjoy the process of eating and savor every bite.
Eat Slowly: Slow eating means you check in and become present, to begin to look for hunger and fullness cues. As a result, you may eat less. Slow eating creates awareness of food smells, tastes, and textures. You may instinctively move towards healthier choices, which taste better when eaten more slowly. Highly-processed “junk” food, on the other hand, often taste worse. (Try eating on a Dorito for a minute and you’ll see what I mean.) There’s also strong evidence that we need to experience the scent of our food, especially retro nasally (as in up the back of our throat into our nasal passages) to be satiated. Thus, thoroughly chewing and tasting the food, which happens when we eat slowly, is essential.
Chew thoroughly: Chewing thoroughly refers to the process of breaking down food in the mouth before swallowing it. When you chew your food well, you are helping to break it down into smaller pieces, which makes it easier to digest and can improve the overall enjoyment of your meal.
There are a few benefits to chewing your food thoroughly:
Improved digestion: Chewing your food well helps to break it down into smaller pieces, making it easier for your stomach and intestines to digest.
Increased nutrient absorption: When food is chewed well, it is exposed to more enzymes in the mouth, which can help to release more of the nutrients contained in the food.
Better appetite control: Chewing your food well can help you to feel full faster and for longer, which can help to reduce overeating.
Enhanced flavor: Chewing your food well allows you to fully experience the flavors and textures of your food, which can make your meals more enjoyable.
Reduced risk of choking: Chewing your food well can reduce the risk of choking, as smaller pieces of food are less likely to block your airway.
A general rule of thumb is to chew your food at least 20-30 times before swallowing.
Pair with nutrient-dense foods: When it comes to eating, “pairing with nutrient-dense foods” means choosing foods that are high in essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, in relation to the amount of calories they contain. These foods are known as nutrient-dense foods.
Examples of nutrient-dense foods include:
Fruits and vegetables, which are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber
Whole grains, which are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals
Lean proteins, such as fish, chicken, and legumes, which are high in essential amino acids and minerals
Nuts and seeds, which are high in healthy fats, protein, and minerals
Low-fat dairy, which is high in calcium and other essential vitamins and minerals
Pairing your meals with nutrient-dense foods can help you get the most nutrition out of your meals and can help you to feel full and satisfied. For example, if you are eating a sandwich, you can pair it with a side of veggies or fruits, if you are having a rice dish, you can add some veggies or lean protein to make it more balanced.
Listen to your body: Pay attention to the signals and cues that your body gives you in order to understand and respond to your physical and emotional needs. It involves becoming more aware of your body’s signals and responding in a way that supports your overall well-being.
Here are a few examples of what it means to listen to your body:
Recognizing hunger and fullness cues: Paying attention to your body’s signals of hunger and fullness, and eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full.
Responsive eating: Eating a varied diet, and responding to your body’s preferences and needs.
Responding to thirst: Drinking water when you are thirsty, and avoiding dehydration.
Listening to your body helps you to be more in tune with your own needs, which can lead to better overall health and well-being. It’s important to keep in mind that everyone’s body is different, and what works for one person may not work for another, it’s important to find what works best for you.
When you sit for your next meal, try these steps for eating slowly
Put your fork down between bites.
Relax. Breathe. Take a few extra moments or a sip of water before you pick up the fork again.
Set a timer if needed – start with 15 minutes per meal and maybe work up to 20 or even 30.
Chew a few more times than you think you need to.
Enjoy and savor each bite. Notice smells, flavors, and textures.
Eat mindfully at a table without distractions such as TV, smartphones, or the computer.
Use outcome-based decision making to assess progress and performance.
If you want to lose fat, eat to “just satisfied” instead of “full” or “stuffed”.
If want to gain mass, eat to “just full” or “slightly over full”, but not “stuffed”. For muscle gain eat to “120% full”.