While we often spend time working on other relationships in our lives, such as family relationships, friendships and that with your other half, we often neglect to look at our relationship with food. Eating mindfully is a practice than can help you develop a better relationship with food,
For many, part of our relationship with food is that we eat mindlessly, when we are not really conscious of why or what we are eating. Being a mindful eater means you have a sense of awareness about what you are eating, you are tuned into of your hunger and fullness signals and you are able to recognise how your emotions affect your eating. Research has found that mindful eating can help with reducing binge eating and help people reach their healthy weight.
Eat slowly and savour the experience
All too often we rush our eating and don’t savour what we are eating. It’s really good to avoid eating infront of the television or computer so we can concentrate on our hunger and satiety signals and enjoying your meal. It’s easy to overeat when you’re not paying attention, or to not feel satisfied because you haven’t been in tune with your eating experience.
Slow down your eating, remember to chew properly, and most importantly, enjoy the flavours and experience of eating. Think of enjoying eating like you would a hot chocolate. Because it’s hot you can’t gulp it down. You sip it slowly, enjoying the warmth, the chocolatey taste, the velvety feel in your mouth. Make your food experience more like this – notice the taste, texture and experience of the food.
Tune into your emotions and signals
A key part to being a mindful eater is to be aware of how your emotions influence what foods you choose,and how much and how often you eat. It takes practice to tune into your emotions and reactions to these, but to have a healthy relationship with food it is key. Next time you feel yourself drawn to eat and it’s not around meal time, stop and think – “Am I hungry, or is it something else?” If you are not hungry, then figure out what it is that you are really feeling. Are you lonely? Are you having relationship issues? Are you feeling down? Whatever the answer is, put in place a useful strategy. For example, if you’re feeling lonely, give a friend a call, and look at ways to stop being so lonely – join a book club, or a sports club, plan a Sunday night movie club.
A good way to identify how your emotions affect your eating, keep a food and mood diary. You’ll soon see patterns for which you can identify techniques to better soothe the emotions your dealing with.
Learn to listen to your physical hunger signals – is your stomach grumbling and feeling empty? Don’t ignore it, it’s a sign you are hungry and you need to eat. Notice when you are satisfied, stop eating at this point rather than when yo
Avoid a diet mentality
Many people live between “diet mode” and “non diet mode”. In diet mode, you follow strict food and exercise rules. When you stick to these rules, you feel great, and in control. When you slip up from your “diet mode” by eating just one food that isn’t allowed according to your rules, you think you’ve ruined your “diet” and switch to “non diet mode”, eating all the foods that you wouldn’t allow yourself before, and in large quantities. Your exercise regime goes out the window in “non diet mode” too. You often feel bad about yourself in this mode of thinking, and constantly think about starting your “diet” again tomorrow.
Living like this is not a healthy way to be. Watch your thoughts. Don’t “diet”. Make a lifestyle change that involves eating nourishing foods without obsession. It’s ok to treat yourself in moderation. Learning to eat healthy and mindfully means you can eat foods that you once “banned” in moderation, without going overboard on portions.
This article is to provide general information only. If you are concerned about how you eat, or think you have an eating disorder, it is very important to consult with a professional. Visit your doctor to share your concerns and they can refer you onto an appropriate professional.