It is all too easy to engage in mindless eating. Perhaps you’ve had a long and stressful day, and you turn on the television to relax and tune out. Grabbing a bag of chips, you settle down on the sofa, only to discover after just a few minutes that you’ve eaten all the chips! If this sounds like your life, you will benefit from learning how to eat mindfully.
We engage in mindful eating when we stay present, in the ‘now’, when we are eating. We are aware of every bite of food that we eat – of the flavors and the textures, the aromas and the sensation of chewing. When we tune out and eat mindlessly, we often eat far more calories than are healthy and often feel sick and unhappy with ourselves afterwards. Mindful eating typically leads to healthier food choices, benefiting our waistline and our self esteem as a result.
Most of us have ‘trigger foods’ – those food items that we simply cannot resist and tend to eat in extreme quantities. They are the foods that elicit the exact opposite of mindful eating! For some of us, this is chocolate, or junk food. Take a few minutes to think about your trigger foods – what are they? Once you have identified them, make a commitment to not keep them in your house anymore and not purchase them at the store! You’ll only cause yourself the mental anguish that comes from overeating if you keep those food items around. The first few weeks without your trigger foods will likely be the most difficult, as you will probably find yourself experiencing cravings for them. These cravings will pass with time, and within just a few weeks, you will find it much easier to resist them.
Do your meals look visually attractive? It’s hard to get excited about food that just looks blah and ho hum, isn’t it? Making your food more visually appealing will help you stay in the present while you eat. And if your tendency is to gulp down several bites of food while standing at the sink or watching the television, step away and have your meal at the kitchen table.
It can be easy to eat far more than we should when we are in a highly emotional state. Avoid reaching for food when you feel angry or sad or anxious, as you will eat more than you intend, and then on top of your original negative emotions, you will also be dealing with feelings of disappointment over your overeating. Instead, call a friend and talk though your feelings, or go for a run and pound your feelings out on the pavement. Write in your journal.
Mindful eating will help you feel more connected to your food. When you stay in the present, you are more likely to eat less and to make healthier choices. You deserve a healthy body, and this is one way to get it!