In the hustle and bustle of our fast-paced lives, it’s easy to fall into the trap of mindless eating. We often rush through meals without giving them much thought, or choosing convenient and quick options. Plus, many of us eat while watching TV or scrolling through our phones, paying little attention to what we’re eating, how it makes us feel and when we’re feeling full.
But what if you could have a better relationship with food and eat with more intention? That’s where mindful eating comes in. Mindful eating is rooted in the ancient Buddhist practice of mindfulness meditation, where you become more aware of what is happening in the present moment so you can better reflect on your thoughts and physical feelings.
In extension, mindful eating is about being present when you have a meal so that you are more aware of how you feel physically and emotionally. What are the benefits of eating more mindfully? Mindful eating can help you to:
- Build a better relationship with food, allowing yourself to enjoy food and mealtimes.
- Be aware of any feelings that come up around food and mealtimes, helping you to recognise that eating isn’t about restricting yourself but rather about enjoying and appreciating food.
- Listen to your body more and recognise when you’re feeling full, helping you to eat the right amount of food and avoid unintentional overeating – this is a great way to help you maintain a healthy weight too, which is one of the most important ways to lower your risk of at least 13 types of cancer
How can I practice mindful eating?
Does mindful eating appeal to you but you don’t know where to start? Well, just like when you’re trying to build any new habit, mindful eating also needs some planning and practice. Luckily, there’s a useful tool called the five S’s of mindful eating that can make it easier for you to start eating more mindfully today. Let’s take a closer look.
1) Sit down
For the most part, it’s a good idea to have your meals at the table rather than on the go. This way, you can focus on what and how much you’re eating, rather than gobbling everything down at once. Plus, sitting at a table lets you chat with your family, friends or colleagues while you enjoy your meal.
2) Stay present
We all enjoy watching our favourite TV shows or scrolling through our phones while we’re eating, but before you know it, you’ve finished your meal without even realising it! When you eat with distractions, you can easily eat more than you usually would because you’re not paying attention to how full you are. So, it’s best to eat without distractions and stay present in the moment.
3) Smaller portions
Being mindful of how much you’re eating and listening to your body when you start to feel full can help you enjoy eating without feeling overly stuffed. A good way to do this is by eating until you feel around 80% full – just until you start to feel satisfied, or preparing and cooking the right portion sizes for you. Are you unsure what a healthy portion size looks like? Find out more in our healthy portion size poster.
4) Slow down
By taking the time to chew your food and having breaks between bites, it can help you to eat less by recognising when you start to feel full. It also gives you a chance to think about how your meal makes you feel, like bringing back a favourite memory. This can help you be more aware of your thoughts and physical feelings, making your mealtime more enjoyable.
You can also eat more mindfully by savouring and enjoying your food by paying close attention to the colours, flavours and textures. This way, you’ll be more aware of how food makes you feel, as well as appreciate how food nourishes your body to support your overall health and wellbeing.
Practising mindful eating is a learning process that may be challenging at first, but taking it one step at a time can help you build a better relationship with food and become more aware of what you’re eating and how it makes you feel. This is just the beginning and like starting anything, all you have to do is keep trying until it becomes a habit.
If you’re interested in mindful eating, you may also be interested in Activ8 – a free 8-week programme designed to help you build healthy habits by eating better and moving more. It offers engaging and actionable content towards a healthier you, supporting your mindful eating journey. Does this sounds like something you’d enjoy? Sign up to Activ8 here.