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Have you ever forgotten what you ate for lunch yesterday? Ever found yourself at the bottom of a bag of potato chips without knowing how you got there? Do you often eat due to stress, boredom, or habit instead of hunger?
Are you left feeling unsatisfied by these experiences?
Mindful eating may be just the tool you need!
What is mindful eating?
There are many different definitions for mindful eating. Some common principles include:
- Being present and engaged for your meals
- Using hunger and fullness cues to guide eating choices
- Eating food that is both nourishing and satisfying
Mindful eating is a tool for building awareness. This can empower you to feel more in charge of your food choices. When you know why, how, when, where, and how you feel when you are eating, it is easier to change WHAT you are eating.
Additionally, if you truly enjoy your food, it may be easier to stop when you’re comfortable instead of overfull, and feel satisfied instead of deprived.
Here are a few mindful eating experiments you could try:
- When you feel like eating, ask yourself “HALT-BS” – am I Hungry, Lonely, Angry, Tired, Bored, or Stressed? If you’re not hungry, is there something else that would better meet your needs?
- Think about what you truly want. For example: what will satisfy me right now? How will I feel after I’ve eaten this food? How can I make the dining experience more enjoyable?
- Limit distractions. Try turning off the TV and other devices so you can focus on your meal.
- Pause before eating. Take a few deep breaths and relax. Clear your busy mind and prepare to enjoy your meal.
- Engage all your senses. We eat with more than just our mouths! Pretend it’s the first time you’ve ever seen your food before. How does it look? How does it smell? What is the texture like between your fingers or on your fork? How does it taste after one single chew? How does the taste change as you continue to chew?
- Create a “speed bump.” Try dividing your plate in two. Pause when you’re halfway through. Does the food taste good? Are you full, or still hungry?
- Reflect. After you’re finished, take a moment to check in with yourself. How do you feel physically? Are you comfortable? Did you enjoy your meal?
Like any change, mindful eating can take practice. Ease your way in slowly. It may be easier to start with one experiment at one single meal. Maybe you have some ideas for your own experiments! Remember - there is no “wrong” way to eat mindfully. Be curious and have fun!