Mindfulness is a hot topic these days, especially when it comes to nutrition and health. For some, mindful eating may be the key to having a healthy and happy relationship with food.
What is Mindful Eating?
According to the Center for Mindful Eating “mindful eating is allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation by respecting your own inner wisdom. By using all your senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body, acknowledging your responses to food (likes, dislikes or neutral) without judgment, and becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to begin and end eating you can change your relationship to food. ”
The Mindful Eating Cycle
Dr. Michelle May of www.amihungry.com has develped the above cycle of questions, and taking the time to answer them can provide insight into your food choices and eating behaviours. I often discuss these questions when patients, and am always surprised at how a little effort can go a long way towards positive, lasting changes.
How would you answer the following questions:
Why do I eat? answers may include hunger, challenging situations, sights and smells, or stress, fatigue, or boredom.
When do I want to eat? Do you eat because the clock says your should? Others are eating?
What do I eat? explores factors such as convenience, taste, comfort, and nutrition.
How do I eat? Do you eat on the run? In your car or at your desk? Alone? With others?
How much do I eat?” How do you decide how much to eat? Plate size? What you “think” you should eat?
Where does the energy go? Eating may be invigorating, cause sluggishness, or lead to guilt and shame. How is the energy used during work or play?
How to get Started
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Research suggests that bringing mindfulness to the table can help us in many ways, including making healthier choices more often and achieving or maintaining a healthy weight. If you’re interested in adding mindfulness to our life, try starting with these exercises:
- Rate your hunger on a scale of 1-10: Keep track of how hungry you feel before , during and after a meal. Where do you feel your best? What’s a comfortable level of hunger? Try to find your “happy number? and use that as a guide for how much and how often to eat.
- Try eating with your non-dominant hand: It may take a bit of time, but this will usually slow down even the fastest eater. What do you notice about your food? Does it taste different? Smell different?
- Take 3 deep breaths before you sit down to eat: Take a minute to two to take a few deep breaths and set your intentions for the meal.
Need help? We’re here to help you incorporate this approach and build a healthy relationship food and eating.