Mindfulness focuses on being present in the moment. This improves the mind-body connection and can improve your health. Noticing our thoughts and surroundings can help us engage more actively with any situation, including our meals. Mindful eating allows us to savor each bite or sip and slow down our food consumption to involve our various senses.
Mindful eating offers several health benefits such as:
- Improved digestion
- Reduced binge or stress eating
- Weight loss and stabilization
- Food enjoyment
- Emotional connection during shared meals
Although it may seem daunting to start eating mindfully, you have many simple changes you can slowly incorporate into your daily life to build a lasting practice.
#1 Recognize Your Hunger Cues
An important aspect of mindful eating is to learn how to recognize your body’s hunger cues. Before you start eating, pause and notice how you are feeling. Are you stressed, bored, or hungry? Are you planning to eat out of want or need? This helps you determine whether to move ahead with a meal or a snack.
Common hunger signs include feeling light-headed, tiredness, labored focus, or your stomach growling. If you are unsure how you feel, you could drink water, as what can seem like hunger cues are rather thirst cues. If you are physically hungry, opting for a meal or a healthy snack is important, but learning to recognize your body’s cues can help you limit mindless eating and snacking, which is especially useful for weight loss.
#2 Sit Down to Eat
Sitting down to eat is a simple but very effective strategy. While having to eat on the go can happen, aiming to spend most of your meals sitting down can help you eat more mindfully and add more practical tips to improve your eating habits.
When you sit down to eat, you can better focus on your food and any people you are sharing a meal with. It also helps you be more attentive to the portion you are consuming which minimizes over-eating.
#3 Share a Meal with Your Family
Eating a meal with your family can increase your enjoyment. It can also be an opportunity to cook your meals and take time to connect and share about your day. Thanks to the ongoing conversation you can more easily slow down your food consumption. It also helps you model healthy eating and living habits for your children.
You can gradually increase how many meals you share as a family, maybe starting during the weekend and building your way up to one meal a day depending on everyone’s responsibilities and schedules.
#4 Take Smaller Bites
Smaller bites with enough time in between each are a key component of mindful eating. An easy way to pace yourself is to set down your fork after each bite. This gives you time to chew properly and enhances your digestion.
Eating more slowly also gives proper time to your brain to register that you are having a snack or a meal. In turn, this helps your body reach conscious fullness and prevents you from over-eating.
Another way to pace your meal and promote healthy digestion is to limit your intake of fluids before you eat and until 30 minutes after finishing your meal. If you need to drink water during your meal, taking small sips like you take small bites helps avoid gas and bloating.
#5 Chew Slowly
Engaging your senses during a meal helps ground you in the present moment. One way to achieve this is to chew slowly to enjoy all the flavors and textures of your food. Becoming aware of your chewing and counting how many times you do that allows your saliva to effectively break down the food which helps your digestive function.
Learning to chew your food up to 30 times can also help your body absorb vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, more effectively. Healthy digestion plays a central role in your well-being.
#6 Consider Portion Sizes
Eating from a plate instead of from a container is the first step in controlling portion sizes. Another way you can avoid overfilling your plate or your bowl is to use smaller ones. It helps you determine when you reach a sensation of fullness.
If you need to add to your plate, doing so on a smaller one can minimize:
- Food waste
Using portions to limit your food intake is usually more effective than willpower alone if you are looking to lose weight or stabilize it.
Bonus Tip: Unplug
Whether you eat on your own or with loved ones, avoiding distractions during a meal, or even a snack, can make a positive difference in developing mindful eating habits. Unplugging, whether it is putting your smartphone away or switching the TV off, allows you to be more attentive to your food and/or your company.
By turning your devices off or stepping away from your computer desk, you increase your focus to incorporate other mindful habits and you can enjoy your meal more as you savor its flavors.
Are you looking for compassionate professional guidance for your wellness journey in Covington, Metairie, or Harvey? Contact Soza Weight Loss today at (504) 475-9817 to schedule an appointment!