| By Jamie Stolarz |
A seemingly simple word that can apply to so many scenarios – including eating.
Mindfulness can help us be aware of the everyday simple pleasures in life, such as eating a meal.
By practicing mindfulness in eating, we are fully emerged in the sensory experience. And in this way, it can be a tool in weight management, especially over the holiday season.
How often do we eat food while watching TV or working at our desk, and not even realize it or enjoy it?
By practicing mindfulness when we eat, we become aware that we are eating and the sensory experience it brings. Let’s try it out.
How to Eat Mindfully
- First, create a space free of distractions (turn off the TV and silence your cell phone).
- Take a piece of food and smell its aroma. Does the scent remind you of anything?
- Then, take a bite of a piece of food and chew it slowly. What does it feel like in your mouth?
- Listen to the sound it makes in your mouth. Do you hear a crunch?
- What does it taste like? Is it enjoyable?
Another practice is intuitive eating.
With intuitive eating, we are aware of the signals our body is sending us – hunger, thirst, fullness, satisfaction.
Have you ever eaten something just because it was there and you weren’t actually hungry? With intuitive eating, we can have more moments where we are choosing to eat a food and choosing how much of it to consume.
This practice also helps us cancel our membership at the clean plate club. Want to give it a try?
How to Practice Intuitive Eating
- Before you eat, ask yourself if you’re really hungry. Rate your hunger: You can use a scale of 1-10, 1-5, or words such as starving, moderately hungry, mildly hungry, satisfied, full, uncomfortably full, etc.
- Next, enjoy your food at a relaxed pace in a mindful and intuitive manner. Chew your food slowly. Place the fork down between bites. Engage in conversation if company is present. Sip water in between. Pause.
- Listen to your body. Have you lost interest in the meal? Stop. Do you no longer feel hungry? Stop.
- Put the food away, knowing that if you’re truly hungry later, it will be available or there will be another opportunity to eat.
- Now, check in with yourself at this point. How do you feel? Rate your satiety.
- And finally, check in with yourself about 25-30 minutes later. This is a key time because it’s when your body and mind recognize the food that was consumed. You want to feel satisfied, not stuffed or full or hungry. If you do feel full, be gentle on yourself and consider it a learning experience for next time.
- Practice this over and over again and learn from the experiences. You’re on your way to becoming an intuitive and mindful eater, truly enjoying meals and listening to your beautiful body.
Savor each dining experience and enjoy the journey!
Jamie Stolarz, MS, RDN, LDN, CDE, is a registered dietitian, a lifelong cook and a frequent gym-goer. She’s also a proud dog mom and is currently planning her wedding.