Have you ever been so busy that you didn't have time to eat breakfast and then by the time lunch rolled around, you were starving and ate too much? Or maybe you get home from work exhausted and order a takeaway because you don't have the energy to cook?
If this sounds familiar, then you're not alone.
A lot of us are so busy that we forget to pay attention to our food, and when we do finally eat, we end up overeating or eating unhealthy foods. But fear not - there is a way around this!
Mindful eating is a way of paying attention to your food and eating habits in a way that helps you make healthier choices.
But what does mindful eating mean? It’s all about taking a holistic approach to food - not just about healthy eating or how to train your mind to stop eating! If you're curious about mindfulness or just looking for some new ways to enjoy your food, stay tuned - you might just find that it's the perfect way to connect with your food and your body.
What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating is a practice that can help people become more aware of their eating habits and make choices that are more nourishing for their bodies. Based on the Buddhist concept of mindfulness, mindful eating can help you to manage emotions; the goal of mindful eating is to eat with intention and attention, without judgment or distraction.
There isn’t a golden mindful eating book or mindful eating app that has all the answers – the practice simply means being present in the moment, and paying attention to the physical sensations of hunger and fullness, as well as the emotional experiences of eating! It can be helpful to think of mindful eating as a process of learning to listen to your body’s needs and give yourself permission to enjoy food.
What are the benefits of mindful eating?
There are many benefits of mindful eating, including improved digestion, increased satisfaction from meals, and greater awareness of the impact of food choices on overall health.
Mindful eating can also help people who struggle with disordered eating patterns or emotional eating to develop a more positive relationship with food – which is a win-win!
If you’re interested in exploring mindful eating, there are many resources available online or through local wellness programs. Start by setting aside a few minutes each day to eat without distractions, and see how it feels to savour your food and connect with your body’s natural cues.
How to practice mindful eating
Mindful eating is not a ‘one size fits all’ concept – there are many different methods of incorporating this approach into your eating habits. Here are some of our favourite mindful eating techniques that just may help you stay present at mealtimes:
1. Eat at a slow pace with no distractions
Eating at a fast pace can confuse the signals between your mind and body. Slowing down can make a world of difference when it comes to genuine nutritional needs, and help you to avoid unconsciously overeating.
Sitting down to eat and minimising any distractions are great ways to bring awareness to your meal, that’s right – it’s time to put your phone away and be present in the moment!
2. Pay attention to your hunger cues
Feelings of stress, sadness, loneliness and boredom may trick our bodies into thinking we are hungry, but actually this may not be the case at all! Physical hunger and emotional hunger cues are completely different, and learning to identify which is which may help you forge more intuitive eating habits.
Although it is easy to listen to our minds first, it can be more beneficial to tune into your body first when it comes to feelings of hunger – is your energy low, or are you feeling light-headed? Learning your personal hunger signals may help you to spot the difference between emotional eating and responding to your body’s needs!
3. Tap into all of your senses by acknowledging the colours, textures and flavours in your food
From the shopping aisles to your kitchen table, tune into the colour, texture and smells of the foods you’re buying, cooking and eating.
A good way to introduce this to your eating habits is to try and identify ingredients when you chew your food – especially the herbs and spices. So next time you sip on a The Turmeric Co. raw turmeric shot, see if you can pick up on the refreshing watermelon base or tangy notes of pineapple!
4. Engage with the way that certain foods make you feel
Although a bar of chocolate can give you an instant burst of endorphins, eating foods high in sugars can sometimes leave you feeling run down and sluggish afterwards.
Pay attention to the wholesome foods that leave you feeling satisfied, full and energised as these foods will help you to maintain your overall wellness. Gingered Apple Oats are a deliciously nourishing way to fuel your body for the day ahead, or for those with a savoury tooth - a Roast Broccoli Chickpea Sweet Potato Traybake provides a nutritional boost of deliciousness that’ll keep your energy levels up and belly full!
5. Plan ahead
Do you find yourself snacking whilst looking for something to eat? Are you always eating out of the packet? Often forget what you last ate? Mindless eating can leave you feeling unsatisfied and uncomfortably full.
Making that extra bit of effort to organise and structure your meal times can save you a lot of time (and money!) At the end of every week, make a list of your favourite meal ideas so you can be prepared to cook up a storm – eating at the same time every day can also help to regulate your digestive processes. Although this can be hard sometimes, an extra 10 minutes spent on planning your movements in the kitchen has incredible benefits for your mind and body!
In conclusion, mindful eating is a powerful tool that can help you maintain your wellness. It’s not about counting calories or depriving yourself of the foods you love, but rather learning to listen to your body and eat in a way that supports your health.
If you want to try mindful eating, start by making small changes in how you eat and pay attention to how your body responds. Over time, you may find that mindful eating becomes second nature and helps you reach your goals for improved health and well-being.
Have you tried mindful eating? What were some of the challenges or benefits you experienced?
The Hal Robson-Kanu Guide To Fitness & Nutrition
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