Mindfulness is a hot topic in today’s wellness scene, and with good reason. Practicing mindfulness has many benefits including reducing stress, increasing happiness, and improving concentration. But did you know that mindfulness can also play a role in weight loss?
Mindful Meditation Meets Mindful Eating
Mindfulness meditation simply means to focus your awareness on the present moment. When we take this practice and apply it to our everyday lives, we can be more intentional with typical everyday events.
Mindful eating is a practice in which we become more aware around our personal ritual of eating. Mindful eating is a useful tool to begin to understand your cravings, triggers, and how food actually makes us feel.
Too often we eat while focusing on other things: working in front of the computer, sitting in a meeting, or watching TV. But, when we are not focusing our attention on our eating, we have the potential to:
- Eat too fast
- Eat food that makes us feel sluggish, anxious, or guilty
- Eat when we aren’t hungry
Eating too Fast
How often have we taken a bite, chewed it three times, then taken another bite, before we have even swallowed down the first bite? Since the process of digestion starts in your mouth, chewing food thoroughly before swallowing allows you to fully digest your food properly. Also, it takes the body 20 minutes to realize that you are full. When we eat too fast, we tend to overeat, causing us to feel lethargic and overstuffed after our meal. Mindful eating creates the space for us to enjoy the food, chew it thoroughly and notice if we are full or not.
How Does Food Make You Feel?
Have you ever paid attention to how you felt after you ate something? Did the food give you energy for the rest of the da? Or did you want to crawl under your desk and take a nap after your meal?
When we slow down and pay attention to how our food makes us feel, we are giving ourselves the tools to make better decisions on our next meal.
When I noticed that I felt anxious after eating cookies, I wondered if the sugar had anything to do with it. I made a mental note to track this feeling, and low-and-behold, sugar was a contributor to anxious feelings.
Eat when we aren’t hungry
A lot of us use food as emotional comfort. We eat when we are sad, grumpy, stressed or even when we are celebrating. When we are eating mindfully, we can take a moment to ask ourselves what it is that we truly want and why we are choosing to eat. Do you really want the cookie? Or are you just bummed about a bad day at work. Mindful eating creates the space to ask yourself why you are interested in eating the cookie, and can allow you to make a healthier decision like going for a walk or calling a friend to vent.
How Can We Apply Mindfulness to our Eating Rituals?
Try this mindful eating practice the next time you eat:
- Choose a Quiet Location – Often we sit at our desks, cramming food into our mouth in between meetings. Step away from the computer and into a quiet space.
- Create Awareness – Look at your food. What is it that you are about to eat?
- Take a Bite – Then put your fork down. Savor this bite and chew it slowly until it is almost liquid in your mouth.
- Chew Slow –
- Continuing eating this way: Take a small bite, put fork down, chew it slowly.
- Notice how the food tastes. Notice how you feel as you are chewing.
- Assess your feelings mid-meal – Take note of how you feel. Both physically and emotionally.
- Assess your feelings after the meal – Notice how you feel both physically and emotionally.
Food can have profound emotional and physical effects on us. So, while we do not judge these feelings, the act of mindful eating allows us to become aware of how we feel.