7 Tips for Mindful Eating

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7 Tips for Mindful Eating | Reclaiming Yesterday

We’re all so busy that sometimes eating is just an afterthought. But if we want to have a healthy, happy relationship with our food, it’s important that we work to practice more mindful eating.

This is a definite work in progress for me. I actually came up with these tips while eating lunch one day. The irony of that is not lost on me. 😜  

Mindful eating is something I struggle with, but when I make an effort to do it more often, it makes a huge difference. For me, it’s not something I do to lose weight, but it does help me to recognize my actual hunger cues and avoid emotional overeating. 

7 Tips for Mindful Eating

1. Sit down

Sit your busy little self down in a chair and give yourself 10 minutes to eat. It seems obvious, but I find myself standing over the counter wolfing down meals ALL the time. Whether I’m trying to multi-task or the table is covered in junk, it’s just what happens. But when I do take the time to sit and pay attention to my food, I always enjoy my meal more. And that satisfaction helps me listen to actual hunger cues and avoid “emotional” eating later on.

2. Put your food on a real plate

If I grab food to go from somewhere and bring it home to eat, I always transfer it to a real plate. Yes, it does mean an extra dish to clean. But eating out of a box doesn’t make me super excited. Seeing my food on a proper plate makes it more visually appealing, and that helps me to pay attention and enjoy it more.

3. Take 3 full breaths before your first bite

Our bodies have two modes: Fight or Flight and Rest and Digest. AKA Sympathetic Nervous System and Parasympathetic Nervous System. Exercising deep breath is a good mindfulness practice in general, but we tend to forget about it at mealtime.

Taking 3 deep inhales and full exhales before you eat helps calm you down and switch your body over to Rest and Digest mode. It will also help you clear the chatter in your head and be more focused and mindful on your meal.

4. Visualize how every ingredient got to your plate

This is a good practice for mindful eating and for gratitude. The next time you’re eating a meal, think about the path that every ingredient took to get to your plate. If you’re having a salad, it might start out like this: This lettuce began as a tiny seed that was planted in the soil. It grew into a wee little green sprout, then it used the nutrients from the soil and the rain and the sunshine to become a full head of lettuce. Then it was picked, washed, packaged and shipped (near or far) to wind up at the place you bought it from.

When I visualize how much work went into all of the ingredients on my plate, I appreciate the gift of a meal so much more.

5. Put your fork down between bites

A fork is a fork, not a shovel. This is something I forget a lot. If I let myself get too hungry, I have the tendency to eat way too fast and shovel food down without even thinking about it. Try to take smaller bites, and set your fork down in between to chew, taste, and enjoy your food.

6. Chew on your less dominant side

I learned this little trick after getting some dental work done on the right side of my mouth. I discovered after that dental work that I naturally chew with the right side of my mouth. Because I had to mindfully chew with the left side of my mouth for a few days, it really kept me more in tune with the process of eating.

Even after my mouth healed up, I continued to alternate to the left side just to switch from “auto pilot” eating and stay more mindful during meals. (This little hack also works by eating with your non-dominant hand)

7. Put your phone in the other room.

Ah. The eat and scroll. My kryptonite.

Sitting down to a meal makes me want to immediately pick up my phone and scroll through emails or social media. But when I’m playing on my phone, I’m not paying attention to what I’m eating. For me, this is a really hard habit to cut, so sometimes I’ll actually put my phone in another room when I sit down to eat. No distractions! 

Bonus: Cook more!

Cooking is more than just a means to an end. The whole process of cooking—chopping, stirring, smelling, tasting—it all contributes to our experience of eating. (And our relationship with food) The more you take place in the prep of the meal, the more likely you will be to fully appreciate, eat mindfully, and be satisfied when it’s over.

Everything we do—including the way we eat—stems from habits we’ve formed. If we can make a few tweaks and be more intentional about our eating, we’re less likely to overeat or snack without being hungry later on.

Do you guys have any tips for how you stay mindful while eating? If so I’d love to hear what they are!  

4 responses to “7 Tips for Mindful Eating”

  1. I love this post! Being more mindful is something I try to do in all aspects of my life, but I often forget about it when it comes to eating! I’ve never thought to visualize how everything got on to my plate before. I’m going to do this tomorrow. 🙂

  2. I’m a school teacher and we focus on mindfulness throughout our day. I can’t wait to incorporate it during lunchtime 😊

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