Mindful eating – it’s not just what we eat, it’s how we eat
Do you practice Mindful Eating?
When was the last time you had an actual sit-down meal? If your answer is last night, I am pretty impressed! For most of us, sitting down to focus on our breakfast, lunch or dinner takes a backseat to our busy lifestyles. Instead, meal times have become an opportunity to multi-task. Too often we will reach for our phones for a breakfast Instagram fix or chomp our way through an email whilst we eat lunch at our desks. This loss of focus and attention when we eat can lead to what we call: mindless eating.
When we divert our attention at mealtimes, and thus eat mindlessly, we are at risk of missing our innate hunger and satiety cues, which can lead to over-eating and in the long-term weight gain and digestive trouble.
When we don’t acknowledge the flavours, smells, textures and taste of our food, we can miss that satisfaction factor – that delight and pleasure we feel at the end of a good meal. If we disregard this important part of mealtimes, we are more likely to crave another bite, or a “finisher” (sweet alert) to round off our meal.
So, to avoid over-eating, dissatisfaction, digestive issues and appetite dysregulation, we can exercise mindful eating.
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is the practice of being present when we eat something and paying attention to it. It is about honouring our food and giving it the attention, it deserves. This way of eating will allow you to eat well and enjoy food.
So where to begin? Here are my top tips on how to easily and enjoyably implement mindful eating into your everyday meal-time routine.
HOW TO PRACTICE MINDFUL EATING
Make Your Mealtimes Distraction-Free
When you eat, just eat. Put your phone down, turn off the TV and focus on the delicious food in front of you. This will allow you to eat until you are comfortably full and gratified. Try doing this for one meal a day, and notice the difference. Aim for awareness, not rigid rules.
Always Eat from the Plate
Resist eating straight from the fridge, bag or box. Not only is it easier to overeat when you can’t see how much you’ve consumed, but it is also tougher to fully appreciate your food when it is hidden from view.
Put Down Your Utensils
Often, we are already formulating the next bite with our fork while we are still munching on our previous bite. To avoid this, try putting down your knife and fork between each bite. This will allow you to enjoy the food you are currently chewing, and prevent you from shovelling down a meal.
Quit the Clean Plate Club
Many of us were brought up to finish everything on our plate and told we could not leave the table until we did. Although no one wants to waste food, this practice can lead to us overeating, beyond our fullness and satisfaction levels. Instead, consider saving your leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch or a snack for later in the day.
Try Deep Breathing Before Meal Times
It can be hard sometimes to feel ready to eat a meal or sit down and slowly eat when work/life is causing you stress. When we are in a state of fight or flight (our bodies stressed state) we divert resources and attention away from our digestive system. This can mean we lose our appetite, crave different foods or digest the foods we eat poorly. One of my favourite ways to get out of this stressed state when sitting down for meal times is to practice deep breathing. I really like Dr Chatterjee’s breathing suggestions.
Clarissa Lenherr is a registered nutritionist in Harley Street London, offering digital and in-person consultations. She specialises in gut health, weight loss and autoimmune conditions as well as workplace wellness.
To work with Clarissa privately, get in touch here.