Mindful Eating can sometimes get a bad rep or be shrugged off – although it’s a practice that’s challenging to do at the beginning, and it gets so much easier with time. It becomes the backbone of eating and enjoying your meal regardless of what the food actually is.
So without further ado, let’s dig in.
What is Mindful Eating?
“Mindful eating” is a term that we hear a lot about these days in the media, but you may be wondering what it means and how you can incorporate it into your daily life to support your wellbeing. Mindful eating is the idea of being present and in-the-moment with the food you are eating and can be one of many ways we can promote a healthy mind-body-food relationship.
Why Eat Mindfully?
By eating mindfully, we are able to help develop a relationship with food that is about so much more than just sustenance. Food is a complex, multifaceted experience that can be enjoyable in so many ways. By slowing down and being present in the moment, you are able to be mindful of all the creative, social, physical and emotional aspects of the food your eating while nurturing a relationship free of guilt and shame. Building this positive relationship with food without these negative associated feelings allows you to eat and enjoy your food while being mindful of your body’s natural hunger cues.
Mindful eating can be challenging, so here are my top 4 tips to get you started.
1) Breaking down Stigmas
We are constantly being bombarded with the antagonization and shaming of behaviours and certain foods. These negative connotations may make us feel guilty or judged, holding us back from being free and present with our mind, body, and food. By breaking the stigmas that society places on food, and implementing mindful eating practices, you can develop a positive relationship with food and make eating an intimate act of self-care.
A big part of breaking down stigmas is saying “no thank you” to society when people put an unhealthy expectation for you to look a certain way, act a certain way, or eat a certain way. Trust me, I know that it is no easy feat, but taking time to focus on all the things that make you amazing, and building a voice of self-love is a great place to start. Society can place a lot of pressure on you to be perfect, but remember that your weight and body size does not define your value as a person and that your relationship with food is YOUR relationship and no one else’s.
2) Being Present
For many people, including myself, having your laptop, phone or TV in front of you while eating by yourself can be tempting, whether it be scrolling through social media, responding to work emails, or watching your favourite Netflix series. By removing distractions, it becomes easier to direct all your senses and attention towards enjoying the food in front of you and be present, allowing you to be more in tune with your body and listen to your hunger cues better. By being present, you can use all 5 senses to have an active, mindful, eating experience. In the free downloadable at the end of this blog, I have a 5-minute exercise to practice mindful eating with all your senses.
3) Slowing things down
Have you ever been so excited about eating a meal that you love, but ate it so fast that you felt like you didn’t get to fully “eat” it and “enjoy” it? That’s totally normal! We often go for seconds not because we’re hungry or we want to, but because we want the flavour to last a little longer. #TrueFoodie!
A major component of eating mindfully is slowing things down. When we’ve been working all day and finally get a chance to grab a bite to eat, it can be easy to gulp down a whole meal without even fully enjoying what you are eating. By slowing things down and taking your time to savor the food, you lay the groundwork and foundation for an opportunity to practice mindful eating. The best part is that the food that you heartfully get excited about eating will be more memorable and enjoyable in all its characteristics.
4) Appreciating the moment
Before you begin your meal, take a minute to reflect on all the things that make this moment possible, and if you’re spiritual, this is also a time to say grace or give gratitude. Take time to appreciate the hands who prepared the meal, the people you are sharing the meal with, and the body that is being blessed with it. You could also give gratitude to all those who contributed to this meal from farm to table, and the beautiful land on which the food was grown. By appreciating the moment and giving thanks, you allow food to become a chance to promote personal well-being through positive reflection and gratitude – so not only you’re feeding your physical self, but also your mental & spiritual being as well.
If you are ready to give up dieting, make a date with yourself to start mindfully eating, and set yourself free from all the rules and restrictions of eating… then let’s chat! Feel free to contact me via email or book a free consultation with me if you want to learn more about how I can help you find your forever comfort with food & eating.
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This blog was written with the help of UBC nutrition and dietetic students, Gilbert and Celine.
Harvard Health Publishing: 8 Steps to Mindful Eating (Accessed October 20th, 2018). Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/8-steps-to-mindful-eating
nutriFoodie Blog: Improving Your Relationship with Food: Intuitive & Mindful Eating (Accessed October 19th, 2018). Available from: https://www.nutrifoodie.org/blog/improving-your-relationship-with-food-intuitive-mindful-eating
The Nutrition Diva: 4 Tips for More Mindful Eating (Accessed October 23nd, 2018). Available from: https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/health-fitness/healthy-eating/4-tips-for-more-mindful-eating