Mindful eating

  • How often do you find yourself eating on the go?

  • Can you remember the last time you really savoured and enjoyed a meal or snack?

  • How often do you find yourself eating in front of your computer at your desk at work?

  • How often do you find yourself sitting down to watch a movie and eating a whole bag of chips or half a block of chocolate without really feeling satisfied? or feeling like your craving hasn't subsided?

  • Do you feel like you eat on autopilot and finish a meal before you realise?

  • Do you find yourself skipping meals and snacks and then scoffing your food down when you do get the chance to eat?

  • Do you ever find yourself eating something to get rid of it, so you don’t have to be tempted by it later?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, mindful eating is likely to be an approach that will work for you. So keep reading!

Mindful eating is all about slowing down and enjoying the food in front of you. It’s a really useful tool to slow down. It is also really valuable for honouring and enjoying food to promote satisfaction, where you can connect with your cravings, wants and needs rather than trying to suppressing them. Mindful eating also allows you to connect with your body with your hunger and fullness levels, meaning you are less likely to eat to uncomfortable fullness. Mindful eating is all about using mindfulness concepts and using all of your senses while eating. The incorporation of mindful eating has also been found to reduce the severity and frequency of bingeing episodes in people with binge eating disorders.

Image via Splatter Platters

Did you know it takes around 20 minutes for your body to register that it is full? Mindful eating can help you slow down and recognise how this feels for you.

Easy tips to eat more mindfully:

  • Try and eat distraction free (no phone, TV, games)

  • Put your knife and fork down between mouthfuls

  • Try eating with your non-dominant hand

  • Chew slower and for a longer time

  • Sit at the table for meals and snacks rather than in your car, on your bed or couch

  • Take smaller bites

  • Take food out of packaging and put it on a nice a plate rather than eating straight out of the bag

  • Use cutlery for food you would traditionally use your hand to eat (e.g. marshmallows, lollies, hot chips, burgers, pizza)

  • If grazing at a party, make a plate of food and have a short break before going back to fill up the plate again

Mindful Eating Exercise:

Here is a simple, guided mindful eating exercise you can practise at home:

The key for this exercise is to engage all of your senses. It is best to use a curious approach to reflect on how you are eating so you can enjoy your food.

  1. Choose a small amount of any food (handful of chips, a row of chocolate, some sultanas etc.)

  2. Find a space where you are free from distractions

  3. Put the food on a plate

  4. Firstly, engage your sight. Take the time to really look at the food. Think about how you would describe the way this food looks to someone if they were blind

  5. Now hold the food in your hand (if appropriate, sticking your fingers in a bowl of soup might not be enjoyable) and notice how it feels in your hand. is it crunchy, oily, is it melting in your hand?

  6. Smell the food - what response does this revoke in you? Are you salivating? Are you feeling more hungry? Is the smell what you expected?

  7. Now you are going to take a small bite of the food and just hold the food on your tongue for a little while. What do you taste? What do you notice about the food? Is it rough, does it melt in your mouth?

  8. Slowly start to chew the food. Pay attention to what the food does in your mouth. Does it coat your mouth or get stuck in your teeth? This is the time to truly taste your food.

  9. Notice how the food feels as you swallow and it travels down your throat

  10. Before you take your next bite reflect on your experience. Did you enjoy the food? what aspects did you enjoy or dislike? Have you really tasted that food before?

  11. Now take another bite. Is this experience different? Does the taste of the food change with each bite?

I highly recommend you take the time to reflect after completing this exercise. I have had some clients who have completely abolished their ‘addiction’ to chocolate through this approach. By eating mindfully, they have allowed themselves to really enjoy and experience the food and can now eat much less chocolate to feel satisfied as opposed to feeling like they have over done it.

Check in with this exercise and reflect every so often. You may be surprised at how much your relationship with particular foods change if you give yourself permission, time and space to thoroughly enjoy it.

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