“Mindful eating is about awareness. When you eat mindfully, you slow down, pay attention to the food you’re eating, and savor every bite.”– Susan Albers
Mindful Eating for Beginners
Are you a mindful or a mindless eater?
There’s no time like the present to give mindful eating a try! This ancient practice just might change your view of the way you think about food.
Mindfulness is… “the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment,which one can develop through the practice of meditation and through other training.” Wikipedia
Mindful eating is a practice. Are you in the habit of eating to meet your emotional needs or eating without really paying attention?
You might be eating while finishing your email, reading, driving, on your computer, watching your favorite TV show…. This leads to mindless eating – a lack of awareness of the food we are putting into our bodies.
Have you ever finished eating and felt stuffed! You may not even remember what you ate or what it tasted like….Basically you ate without thinking about what you were eating. We are going to call this MINDLESS eating.
MINDLESS eating is different from MINDFUL eating. When you practice mindful eating you savor the food choices you make and you observe how satisfied you are.
A lot of people think that mindful eating is making sure you eat slowly or chew your food for a long time, but they don’t really get what mindful eating is.
Mindful eating allows you to use all your senses to choose and experience the food you are eating. It helps you recognize your responses to food without judgment. This includes your dislikes as well as your likes. Mindful eating also helps you become more aware of when you are hungry and when you are full.
One of the biggest changes you can make towards eating mindfully is to learn to pay attention to the textures and flavors. It may also have you exploring those urges that are triggered by your emotions.
Mindful eating has nothing to do with dieting or restricting your food intake. What you are doing is staying in the present moment and enjoying every aspect of eating your meal.
You can experiment with your practice of mindful eating by thinking of where your food came from, how it was grown, how it was selected, transported…. When practicing mindful eating it is important to allow yourself to become aware of all its qualities.
The cool thing about mindful eating is you can do it anywhere...at home, a restaurant, or a dinner party. Eating mindfully is a habit. It can be the key to many positive changes in your health, wellness and mindset.
Have I got you curious about how to get started?
What is mindful eating?
There are different ways of practicing mindful eating. Some people follow a Zen, Buddha or Yoga approach. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the present moment, calmly noticing and accepting your thoughts and feeling regardless of whether they are positive or negative. You can apply mindfulness when you eat your snacks or meals.
Mindful eating takes into consideration, not only what you eat, but how the foods you eat affect the world around you.
Mindful eating can not only apply to healthy food choices like following Canada Food Guide – which focuses on plant-based food. Find out more here, but can also be done when eating pizza, a hamburger or a slice of chocolate cake. What you are doing is being mindful or fully attentive to your food – as you buy, prepare, serve and consume it.
Dr. Cheung and Thich Nhat Hanh (Buddha spiritual leader) have a book called Savor: Mindful Eating Mindful Life that looks at mindful eating practices.
I’m going to show you my simple approach to mindful eating.
Here are my best tips to help you eat mindfully….
- Mindful eating starts with prepping and your shopping list. When making your list think about the health value of each item and stick to you list. Try to avoid impulse buying. Put mostly plant-based foods in your cart. Shop the perimeter of the store to avoid those processed foods like chips and candy.
- Learn to pay attention in the present moment as you eat your snack or meal. Try to appreciate your food. Pause between mouthfuls, put your fork down and consider everything and every person that was involved in bringing your food to your plate. You can even say thank you for the food and the people you are sharing it with.
- Notice the texture and flavor of your foods by using all your senses. Pay attention to how it makes you feel while you are eating as well as after you finish eating.
- You can also consider the color, texture, smell and sounds of your foods as you are cooking, prepping and serving.
- Lastly use your senses when your are chewing your food by taking small bites. You can try to see if you can identify any special herbs or seasonings.
The Benefits of Mindful Eating
- You enjoy the taste of the food you are eating.
- You see the food you eat as nutritional vs having to taste good.
- You eat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re full.
- You eat mindfully while socializing
- You notice how food affects your mood and energy during the day.
Mindful Snacking….Do you really need to snack? Are you on autopilot?
According to Thich Nhat Hanh, we sometime snack not because we are physically hungry but because of emotional hunger. Sometimes when you crave foods, it is often due to anxiety, stress, or boredom. This might have you staring into your cupboards or refrigerator looking for that ‘thing’ that is sweet or salty.
If you are truly hungry a small, healthy snack can be quite satisfying. Having a small handful of mixed nuts or a piece of fruit can be enough to tide you over.
However, if your hunger is due an emotional trigger you might want to try snacking on ‘mindfulness instead”.
Thich Nhat Hanh talks about “A mindful breath is a good way for your body to ‘snack’ on some mindfulness and recognize and embrace strong feelings that may be there. After a mindful breath, you may have less desire to go and fill up with a snack to distract yourself. Your body is nourished by your breath.” His book is called “How to Eat”.
Let me leave you with these final thoughts.
Mindful eating is…. not only chewing your food thoroughly and slowly, but savoring your food. It is remembering to be fully present in the moment when you are eating meals or snacks. Think about where your food came from, and everyone that was involved in bringing the food to your table. Lastly bring your attention to all the wonderful sensations available with each and every bite.
A simple practice you can try…. is the Raisin meditation @ MBSR (this is a meditation practice that is part of the online MBSR training course. This course is 100% free and was created by a fully certified MBSR instructor. It is based on the program founded by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.)
In the Raisin meditation you are slowly eating a raisin. First you look at a raisin and observe it – what can be seen, felt, heard, smelled, tasted. Then you slowly eat a raisin – connecting your experience to how it tastes, where it came from, what was involved in planting it, etc….there are many different versions of the raisin exercise on the internet. You can follow a guided meditation exercise here.
Recipe: Gluten Free Granola
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 2 cups chopped raw almonds (slivered)
- 1 1/4 cup raw pecans
- 1 cup raw walnuts
- 3 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1 Tbsp flaxseed meal
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1- 2 Tbsp coconut sugar
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 3 Tbsp coconut or olive oil
- 1/3 cup maple syrup or honey
- 1/4 cup dried blueberries (other dried fruit)
- 1/4 cup raw unsalted sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup raw pumpkins seeds
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
- In a large mixing bowl, combine your coconut, nuts, chia seeds, flax seed, cinnamon, coconut sugar, and salt.
- In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the coconut oil and maple syrup or honey until melted.
- Remove from stove and pour over dry ingredients and mix well.
- Spread the mixture evenly onto a large baking sheet.
- Put in the oven on center rack.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven, add dried blueberries, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds and stir.
- Increase heat to 350 degrees F
- Return to oven for another 5-8 minutes, or until light brown.
- Be sure to watch it carefully as it browns quickly.
- Cook for about 25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
- Store in an air-tight sealed container. (will keep for about 2 weeks)
Quote:“Training your mind to be in the present moment is the #1 key to making healthier choices.” – Susan Albers
Affirmation: Breathing in, I feel nourished and satisfied; Breathing out, I release my cravings.
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