Too many of us eat our meals whilst watching the television, getting last minute work done, or talking on the phone. In fact, dining tables are often only used during the festive season in most households. And, while this is a reality for most of us, it isn’t (unfortunately) the healthiest way of eating.
Experts today recommend mindful eating, which involves paying attention to what you eat. It is believed to improve digestion, promote weight loss, and prevent binge eating.1 Here are a few tips to help you eat mindfully.
1. Chew Slowly
An important aspect of mindful eating is to be aware of the textures of the food you eat and chewing slowly will help you understand this. Not to mention, chewing slowly improves digestion, reduces gas, and prevents overeating by making you feel full quickly. Be sure to take small bites as well.2
If you find yourself struggling with chewing slowly, you could start off by adding fiber-rich foods like salads to your diet to help you get into the habit of chewing. Additionally, unlike popular belief, you don’t have to count the number of times you chew, as long as you chew slowly.3
2. Time Your Meals
Timing your meals will help you avoid eating too quickly, especially if you tend to rush through your lunch breaks. Additionally, it might dissuade you from watching a movie or a TV series while eating. So, set a timer for 20 minutes for a moderately sized meal and be sure to stop eating once the time is up.
Since having to eat within a deadline might make you anxious in the beginning, try timing only one meal of the day. Work your way up to all three meals and continue timing yourself until you get into the habit of eating within that time frame.4
3. Eat In Silence
Every once in a while, try eating your meals in silence. As you do, be conscious of the food’s consistency, flavor, tastes, and smells. Name the flavors and tastes of each food to get into the habit of being mindful while eating.
For most of us, mealtime is an important time to catch up with your loved ones and hence, it might be difficult to eat your meal in silence. However, even spending the first 5–10 minutes in silence can set a positive tone for the rest of your meal.5
4. Eat With Your Non-Dominant Hand
One way of bringing attention and awareness to what you’re eating is to make the process of eating a little uncomfortable. So, if you’re lefthanded, pick up the spoon with your right hand instead. This will force you to focus on your food.
Additionally, you could try changing your utensils and eat with chopsticks if you haven’t used them before. Switching up your fork and knife technique also works well.6
5. Don’t Obsess Over Finishing Your Food
As kids, a lot of us weren’t allowed to leave the table until we finished eating everything on our plate. This has made some of us fearful of “wasting” our food, especially when we’re in restaurants.
However, obsessing over finishing your food might lead you to overeat even when you’re full. Instead, consider getting the leftovers packed or leave the last few bites.7
6. Reflect Before Eating
You don’t have to say a prayer each time you eat, but it might not hurt to take a few moments to reflect on how you feel. This will help you differentiate between what your wants and needs are, so you can pick the healthiest options to eat.
Additionally, think about what it took to produce the meal in front of you once you have your meal in front of you. This will get you to focus on the textures, smells, and flavors of what you eat.8
7. Turn Off All Screens
This tip, although obvious, is extremely important to follow if you’d like to practice mindful eating. Televisions, laptops, and smartphones can make it difficult for you to focus on the food that’s in front of you.
So, be sure to turn off all screens when you’re eating. If you can’t seem to be able to resist the urge to pick up the remote or your phone, shift to a room that doesn’t have any of these distractions.9
Initially, practicing mindful eating can be difficult, even ridiculous at times. But, as you continue to incorporate these tips into your life, you’ll find yourself paying more and more attention to what you eat.
|↑1||Mindful eating may help with weight loss. Harvard Medical School.|
|↑2||Eating Well for Digestive Health. University Of Rochester Medical Center.|
|↑3, ↑4||Mindful eating. Harvard Health Publishing.|
|↑5, ↑7, ↑8, ↑9||10 tips for mindful eating — just in time for the holidays. Harvard Health Publishing.|
|↑6||Mindful eating may help with weight loss. Harvard Health Publishing.|