We are all guilty of it– hastily shoving food in our mouth as we struggle to get out the door/rush to a meeting/put out a fire/move on to the next thing. Or maybe you are so starved that all you can do is shovel the food in until your mind and stomach finally say “enough!”. While physically nothing is wrong with doing this except you might suffer a bit of heartburn, the mental aspect of eating more slowly and enjoying your food is actually a huge component of healthy living. Mindful eating is the practice of eating your food slowly and savoring each bite so you are mindful of what goes in your mouth and how it tastes. By eating mindfully, you can avoid consuming excess, empty calories that you might not even enjoy and even lose weight!
It sounds simple yet so many people struggle with this concept. Things like stress, boredom, time constraints and more interfere with our ability to enjoy our food fully. So how do you break out of the rut of putting food in your mouth without thinking about it?
1. Sit down at the table. We are often eating in front of the TV, the computer or at our desks. Make a pointed effort to step away from these things (and handheld devices) to eat at a table and focus on your food.
2. Focus on what you are eating. Pay attention to what is on your plate and how it tastes. Recognize if you are eating something you love. Acknowledge if it is salty or sweet. Visualize how the food is nourishing your body.
3. Make mealtimes special. Enjoy your meals with friends or family. Talk about your day and the meal. Spending time with others will prevent you from rushing and gulping down your food. Also, talking will keep you from constantly having your mouth full.
4. Chew, chew and chew again. Focusing on chewing your food and not just inhaling it. Count how many times you chew before you swallow and try to maintain this count with each bite. Notice how you might start feeling more full before the end of the meal!
5. Snack with a purpose. Choose a snack you will enjoy and cannot be gulped down. Something that requires peeling, shelling or cutting are ideal like oranges or mandarians, nuts or carrots.
Try these five simple tips and notice how much more enjoyable eating is and how satisfied you are with your food. Note whether your caloric intake is the same and if the food you choose really satiates you.
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Yes, great tips! I love to make dinner a special event of the day, eaten either at my kitchen table or in my backyard, where I take my time eating and get to catch up with loved ones and simply enjoy it. Also, one of the things that tends to make people appreciate their food more is preparing it themselves. When I make a nutritious, delicious meal with wholesome ingredients that I know are fueling our bodies right, it’s a good feeling!
Oh, this is wonderful advice which I will share with a friend of mine. Being more mindful in eating is what ALL Americans should be doing based on the nation’s obesity rates and the amount of sedentary time we have. Also, your tips are good family time tips — our children could be healthier if we promoted enjoying the food and company at our table.