Mindful Eating – What it is & getting started

With many clients, I use a mindful eating approach to help them achieve their goals. I’ve found that utilizing mindful eating practices can help my clients not only reach their nutrition goals but also help them continue lifelong healthy eating habits. I believe that mindful eating can help clients reach their happy weight, improve their eating habits, develop a healthy relationship with food, and more. Because this is the approach that I will utilize at Friendly Nutrition, let’s take a moment to discuss mindful eating.

person holding donut

To better understand mindful eating, first consider it’s opposite – mindless eating. Mindless eating is eating food because it is there. You may not be hungry and it may not be time to eat but there’s food around so you eat. Mindless eating is grabbing a piece of candy because you walk past a candy dish. Mindless eating is grabbing a handful of chips while watching a game because there’s a bowl full of chips on the counter. Mindless eating is not thinking about the food that you are putting in your mouth. It’s eating because of habit or reflex.  

Mindful eating is being thoughtful about the food you are eating and why you are eating. It’s about listening to your body and selecting foods that provide nourishment and satisfaction. It’s about learning to recognize the difference between eating for hunger and eating for emotional reasons. It’s learning to trust yourself and knowing that you will make a good food decision. Mindful eating teaches you to stop judging foods and teaches you to be flexible about your eating.

Mindful eating isn’t easy but the practice can be extremely rewarding. Here are a few tips to get you started.

  1. Slow down. Take time to enjoy what you are eating. When you slow down, you allow yourself the opportunity to notice flavors that you might have missed if you ate quickly. You also allow yourself a better opportunity to recognize when you are full.
  2. Don’t let yourself get too hungry. When you get too hungry, you’re more likely to eat quickly and overeat. Learning to pay attention to hunger and eating before you feel you are starving will make eating mindfully much easier.
  3. Pay attention to your emotions. Mindful eating allows you to learn when you are eating for reasons other than hunger. Once you recognize that your craving is driven by emotion, you can find something besides food to meet that emotional need.
  4. Focus on how food affects your body. Pay attention to how food makes you feel while you are eating and after you have eaten. You might discover that certain foods make you feel great and others make you feel yucky. Honor those feelings!
  5. Be mindful when you can and don’t punish yourself when you can’t. Eating mindfully 100% of the time is impossible. Part of learning to be mindful is also understanding that it’s okay to not be perfect.

 

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