How to Practice Mindful Eating

Article posted in: Lifestyle

What we’re eating, how much, and how often—those are the things we think about when we’re trying to lose weight. The part we probably focus less on, however, is how we eat. And that is just as important. Early research has shown that taking a mindful approach to eating may help you lose weight and consume fewer calories and fat.

The idea of mindfulness involves being fully aware of what’s happening in the moment, of deliberately paying attention to your thoughts, emotions and senses. Apply the concept to eating, mindfulness includes being aware of how food nourishes us, of noticing the colors, smells, flavors and textures, of choosing foods you enjoy, acknowledging your taste preferences without judgment and tuning into your hunger and satiety cues. It’s all about, in a sense, being present with your food.

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So how, exactly, does one practice mindful eating? Some strategies to try:

Slow down. Take small bites and chew them well—it’ll give you a chance to savor your food and taste the different flavors. Maybe even set a timer to 20 minutes, and take that entire time to eat a meal. Using your non-dominant hand or eating with chopsticks if you don’t normally use them can also help you slow down.

Eliminate distractions. That means TV off, newspaper put away, laptop shut and phone on vibrate.

Eat with your senses. It may take a little practice, but it’ll help you focus your attention on the experience of eating. Start with a grape or piece of cheese, for example. Notice its appearance, texture and aroma, and be aware of how your body reacts as you observe the food—are you salivating? Anticipating eating it? Or maybe you’re not reacting. Then take a little bite and let it sit for about 30 seconds before chewing, taking note of the flavor and texture. Compare how it changes after you chew and, and how you feel after eating it.

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Carve out quiet time. For even just five minutes during a meal, eat in silence and think about what it took to get that food to your plate, from the farm to the grocer and cook.