Mindful eating is often the missing piece to a healthy lifestyle. Many of us are so rushed day-to-day that we grab what’s quick and convenient. It’s hard to slow down, especially during meal times. But slower is exactly what most of us need.
4 Mindful Eating Tips to Try Today
If you want to improve your relationship with food and tune into the best foods for you, mindful eating is a life-changing tool. Here are some ways to get started.
1. Identify Emotional vs Physical Needs
Mindfulness is about tuning in to your body. Many people eat in response to strong or difficult emotions. But what if we could learn to sit with those emotions instead of covering them up with food?
Next time you want to eat, try to listen to your body’s signals. Do you have physical symptoms of hunger: growling stomach, hunger pangs, low energy, lightheadedness, etc? Or are you feeling an emotional need to eat because you actually need something else?
2. Connect With Your Food
Humans have become quite disconnected from our food in recent times. This is sad, because understanding where our food comes from can connect us more deeply to our world and one another.
Take a moment to consider everyone and everything involved in the food you are about to eat—whether it’s packaged or prepared by a loved one. Feel gratitude for each step of its creation and quality. This practice can lead to smarter food choices for both our bodies and our environment.
3. Fully Tune In To Eating
Obviously, you can’t always be completely distraction-free when eating. But even a little more mindfulness can turn it into a practice. Fully focusing on your meals can ensure your brain has time to catch up with your stomach.
During your next meal, try to notice the tastes, textures, temperature, and scents of everything on your plate—taking the time to really appreciate what you’re eating. Eating with minimal distraction makes it easier to listen to your body’s signals and actually get satisfaction from your food.
4. Note the Story You’re Telling Yourself
What do you think about certain foods when you eat them? If you eat a cookie and think, “Oh, I’m so bad for eating that cookie. That was an awful decision,” it becomes a feeling of shame for your food choices. This can lead to unhealthy behaviors like binge eating.
In contrast, maybe you don’t eat greens because you tell yourself the story that vegetables are boring and gross. In reality, perhaps you feel this way because your mother forced you to eat vegetables you hated, or you haven’t ever had them prepared in a tasty way.
Notice what you think about certain foods that cause you stress. Is the story absolutely true, or are there ways you can flip the script? Practicing mindful eating can open you up to a greater variety of foods and a more balanced attitude about everything from veggies to brownies. Overall, that makes us far healthier than the restrict-binge-repeat cycle.
The Bottom Line
If you want to get healthier and truly improve your diet, mindful eating is a key factor. Slow down, take some time to notice your internal dialogue, and be open to what mindful eating can teach you about yourself.