Whether you have a food sensitivity or your doctor has recommended a specific diet to treat an illness or chronic condition, paying attention to what you eat and when you eat it can feel overwhelming. And when fall fun-tivities and holidays hit, it can be easy to mindlessly shovel extra (delicious) food onto your plate and into your body. But, if that leaves you feeling sluggish, tired and inflamed, eating mindfully can be your solution. A note: We’re not suggesting mindful eating as a weight-loss hack. Instead, mindful eating is about being in touch with what your body and mind really want and need, in an effort to stay aligned holistically. When we pay attention to what our bodies are asking us for, we’re more likely to feel satiated and excited by our food. Eating mindfully doesn’t have to be a big to-do or double your mealtime. It’s about being present with your food, doing one thing at a time, and letting yourself be immersed in your own life. With that in mind, keep reading for five tips to eat more mindfully, all year long.
5 Tips for Eating Mindfully
- Give thanks. This doesn’t mean you have to say a prayer over your food, but acknowledging where your food came from and being grateful for how it will nourish you gives you a new perspective on your meal. Gratitude is continually linked to overall happiness, so adding in a piece of gratefulness to mealtime is an easy way to refocus, and be happier.
- Eat at a specific time and place daily. In 2018, most of us are guilty of the grab-and-go food mindset, and eating at random times and in random places (ahem, in front of your computer) is commonplace. By actually putting your mealtimes into your schedule, you’re already thinking about them mindfully, because you’re setting aside time for them. Food becomes an important part of your schedule, instead of something you fit in when you can. Plus, you’re less likely to crash at work, or grab something you wouldn’t normally eat if you’ve planned ahead.
- Don’t multitask. Eating is an important part of your daily life, not just a means to an end. Turn off screens (all types!) and take at least 10 or 15 minutes to enjoy your food. When you’re paying attention to what you eat, you’re more likely to enjoy your food and feel comforted and satiated by it. You can also tune into how your body is feeling while you eat. Are you anxious about an upcoming presentation? You’ll be able to tell when you slow down to eat. Are you craving a certain type of food? It may mean you’re not getting enough of a core nutrient. Taking note of how you’re feeling while you’re eating can alert you to what’s really going on with your body.
- Chew slowly. It’s another way to get you to focus on your food, and what you’re actually doing. Chewing each bite at least 30 times can also tune you into your body’s signals that you’re full. Instead of eating like a robot, bite after bite, chewing mindfully allows you to appreciate the taste and texture of your food, and be grateful (see tip number 1) for what you’re eating.
- Know your personal hunger signals. You’ve probably heard that if you think you’re hungry, you should drink a glass of water first, because you might just be dehydrated. That’s true (lots of us are a bit chronically dehydrated), but it’s also important to know what your personal hunger signals are. Some people get headaches or upset stomachs when they don’t eat frequently enough; others get dizzy or lightheaded. Tune into what it really feels like for you to be hungry and eat based on those signals.