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8 Tips for Mindful Eating

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mindful eating

We eat so quickly in our society.  We gulp down our food to hurry on to the next task.  Many times we eat standing up at the counter or driving in the car.  We never take the time to really enjoy and savor our food.  We eat mindlessly, never mindfully.

A couple of weeks ago, I shared an article from Dr. Mercola on how eating slowly can help your health and your waistline.  Today, I am going to give you tips to help you practice mindful eating!

What does mindful eating mean?

Eating mindfully is when you are aware of everything going on with your meal.  You are aware of the sights, the smells, the texture, the taste of every bite you eat.

Have you ever eaten a meal or a snack and don't even remember what you ate or what it tasted like?  Have you ever finished a bag of chips (cookies, candy, whatever) and didn't realize it?  You weren't eating mindfully!

The benefits of mindful eating are many.  According to Dr. Susan Albers, mindful eating has been linked to reduction of binge eating, weight loss, reduction of anxiety to name a few.

Practicing mindful eating can be tricky to do, especially if you are used to eating mindlessly.  It will probably feel awkward at first and won't be something you will do at each meal or snack.  If you have tried chewing your food properly, you are on your way to mindful eating!!

I am going to be honest here.  This is VERY hard for me.  I do try to chew my food but I tend to still eat quickly and enjoy watching tv or talking while I am eating.  I am going to try to do this more often and see what changes it makes in my wellness and my relationship with my meals.

Even if you give it a try once in awhile, you may notice a difference in how you eat throughout the week.  Sometimes people find it easiest to start with a small piece of something (piece of candy, a grape, a slice of cheese, etc).

Of course, this isn't something you will do for every meal.  Of course, it is okay to have family dinners where you talk about your day or you may eat lunch while finishing up work on the computer.  This is an exercise to slow down and savor the meal and become a bit more intentional about your eating.

Here are some things you should be focusing on during mindful eating:

1.  Sight

Look at your food carefully.  Look at the color, the texture.  Inspect every aspect of your food.  Is it smooth? rough? shiny? oily?  What colors do you see?  Close your eyes.  Can you picture the food in your head?

2.  Smell

Bring the food up to your nose.  Smell the food and describe what you smell.  Close your eyes and smell the food.  Can you describe the smell now?  Is it different or the same?

3.  Physiological Reaction

What is going on in your body right now?  Is your mouth watering?  Is your nose still smelling the aroma of your food?  Are you hungrier? Less hungry?

4.  Chew

Put the food in your mouth, and start to chew.  Put your fork down and focus on the chewing motion of the food.  Bite very slowly and feel the texture, the temperature of the food in your mouth.  Chew your food slowly and well, until it is liquid in your mouth.

5.  Taste

Become aware of the taste of the food.  What are you tasting?  Is it salty, spicy?  Crunchy, juicy?  Really savor the taste and try to describe it.  Can you figure out each ingredient in the bite?

6.  Texture

What is the texture of the food?  When you first put it in your mouth?  How about now?  Did the texture change?

7.  Swallow

Swallow your food.  How does it feel going down your throat?  Can you feel it in your stomach?

8.  Silence

Be silent and think about your experience with the food.  Turn off the tv.  Don't talk.  Don't listen to music.  Just sit in silence as you practice mindful eating.  Continue to eat in silence practicing the 7 steps above.

More Reading on Mindful Eating:

Mindful Eating as Food For Thought from NY Times

The Center for Mindful Eating

A Simple Guide to Mindful and Intuitive Eating from A Happy Health Nut

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