Do you ever feel like you are not in control of what you are eating? Do you ever feel like you are bursting full but still continue to eat, or like your stomach is a bottomless empty pit when you are stressed?
Eating mindfully will allow you to have better control over this. It will maintain regulation of your hunger, control emotional eating, prevent disordered eating and aid in weight management. Mindful eating is taught prominently in populations with disordered eating patterns, although it is helpful for all people to practice since eating is something we all do every day.
The first step is to determine the difference between mindless eating and mindful eating. Any of the following actions are examples of eating mindlessly: eating while distracted, eating fast or in a hurry, eating when emotional, using food as comfort and ignoring the body’s fullness cues. Focusing on the taste of food when eating it, listening to hunger cues, eating food in its most natural form and eating at a structured environment are all ways to eat mindfully.
You may wonder, “How do I even do this mindful eating thing?” Like everything else, it takes practice. Mindful eating is not something you will be successful at right away; it is something you need to practice on a daily basis in various environments. The following tips will help you become more successful with mindful eating.
- Listen to your hunger cues: Wait for your body to tell you when you are hungry, like stomach growling or decreased energy.
- Understand your purpose of eating: Are you eating because you are physically hungry, or are you eating to fulfill an emotion or to feel comforted? Make sure you are responding to a physical need rather than an emotional want.
- Enjoy your food: If you slow down and focus on how your food tastes, it will allow you to appreciate your food more and allow you to become more satisfied from the portion of food you ate.
- Just focus on eating: Do not try to multitask when eating like watching TV, doing homework or playing on your phone. This will allow you to stay connected to your body’s satiety cues and prevent you from overeating.
- Eat food in its most natural form: Processed foods are manufactured to be addicting and lead to overeating, so eating food in its most natural state prevents you from consuming those chemicals and allows for proper nourishment.
- Have a structured eating schedule: If you eat at the same time on a daily basis, your body will start to get hungry and full at the same times. This will also decrease the chance of reaching for an unhealthy snack if your body is used to eating at a certain time in a specific place.
- Use a smaller plate: Many people overeat and feel the need to finish their plate. If your plate is smaller, you will naturally be eating less food while still getting the satisfaction of finishing your plate.
- Eat with other people: If you are eating while conversing with others, you are bound to eat slower, which will give your body time for the satiety cues to become present. This also prevents you from aimlessly looking through the refrigerator and cabinets for food.
- Finish your plate of food before going up for seconds: After you are done eating your one plate of food, take a moment to evaluate your fullness level. Then if you are still hungry, you can go for a second helping.
- When done eating, dissociate yourself from the food: It is best to leave the table and go somewhere else after eating to prevent mindless snacking on additional food. Allow time for your brain to register the body’s fullness and prevent you from overeating.
Lindsay Wisnicky is an ACE certified personal trainer for Greater Green Bay YMCA. Reach her at 920-436-1200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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