Mindful Eating in Four Easy Steps

Do you find yourself mindlessly eating; that is, eating food without actually tasting it, eating on the go, putting anything in your mouth that you think will satisfy you in that moment without thinking about the consequences?  If so, these four simple steps can help you learn and practice mindful eating.

Mindful eating is characterized by staying in the present moment with the food you are choosing to take in, while savoring it and nurturing yourself with it simultaneously.  Mindful eating is one of the hallmarks of a healthy relationship with food.  Mindful eating will also help you be conscious of your intake, therefore sending signals to your brain that you are satisfied and/or comfortably fueled.  Mindful eating can help you maintain and/or lose weight.

Here are four simple steps to mindfully eating:

1.  Sit Down!!  Mindful eating is achieved when you are dedicating a specific amount of time to nourishing your body with food.  You can only be mindful of one activity when you are not engaging in another.  So take the time to nourish and care for yourself.  Plate your food nicely, bring it to the table and sit down with it.   Turn off the television, phone, computer and any other distractions.  It's just you and your nourishment, that's it.

2.  Savor.  Teach yourself to take a bite and then put the food down.  Really tune in to the taste sensations.  Feel the food on your tongue, smell it, acknowledge its texture.  Chew slowly and completely, taking the time to observe and enjoy the experience.

3.  Practice.  Create a dedicated time to be with food and nourish yourself.  Make it a non-negotiable part of your daily routine, just like taking a shower or brushing your teeth.  Do it with your family members or friends by sitting quietly for a moment with your food and practicing observing and experiencing it.  It takes time to create new healthy habits, just like it did to establish the old, negative ones.

4.  Plan and prepare.  Think about the kinds of foods that truly nourish your body and your mind and add those to your weekly routine.  Most people tend not to eat mindfully when eating something they don't truly enjoy - basically they are just "getting it over with" to avoid increased hunger and minimize the time.  Mindful eating requires a time commitment as well as thoughtful consideration to the kinds of foods that are enjoyable and nourishing.  Perhaps commit to preparing each week one very nourishing meal that you enjoy eating even if it takes time to prepare.  This will increase your feeling of satisfaction, thereby potentially reducing the amount you consume over all.

Mindful eating is a time and energy commitment!  It is not an easy fix to a problem, but a new way of thinking about and eating food.  If you are struggling with eating on the go or mindless or compulsive eating, give mindful eating a shot.  You deserve to feel nourished and satisfied!