How Mindful Eating Can Improve Your Relationship with Food
As a Holistic Wellness and Food Relationship Coach, I am often asked, “I need to eat better. If you were me, where would you start?” My advice will always be the same. Practice Mindful Eating. I was in your shoes, grasshopper, and this was where I started.
Like a Bad Penny
Always cropping up! That was me and my love-hate relationship with food and my body. I would be on a roll (read: Restrictive bent) and then wham! I was eating everything (which is normal and ideal) in large portions (read: Binge 😔). And, as if you didn’t already suspect, this was cycle was in heavy rotation–for years.
Then ya’ girl got a coach and learned not just mindful eating, but mindfulness in general. Total game changer. Working with a coach and her arsenal of Jedi Mind tricks, I was able to break up with binge eating and align my eating patterns with my values. It took time. I am not perfect. But I am no longer going to live in a dessert desert and then go off the deep end, eating my weight in crème brûlée.
Just slowing down and paying attention when I ate helped me to have gratitude for food. Then I shifted to paying attention to what I was eating. There is also something to be said that fries from Mickey D’s are only delicious when hot. Let those bad boys get cold and YUCK! However, a grilled salmon fillet get cold, I just slap on top of a salad and it still tastes delicious. Funny how that works!
Get Your Mind Right!
It can be easier to lose weight when you’re eating mindfully but there are plenty of other reasons to adopt a more mindful approach to your eating habits, even if you’re not actively looking to slim down. From getting to grips with emotional eating to improving your digestion, mindful eating can have some seriously impressive benefits.
Benefit #1: Less potential for overeating
Eating at a slower pace gives a lot more opportunity for signals to pass between your stomach and brain – namely the ones that tell you when you’re full. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of eating “mindlessly” and automatically, which often means that these signals don’t have the same effect and before you know it, you’ve eaten a whole heap of calories and still don’t feel full.
With mindful eating, it’s a whole different story. Taking your time over your meals and snacks makes it easier for your body to recognize when you’re full so you can take your cues from that. Tapping into your body’s natural hunger cues makes overeating a lot less likely. Another great reason to avoid eating in front of the television!
Benefit #2: Getting to the bottom of emotional eating triggers
What makes you crave junk food? Often, it’s nothing to do with hunger and everything to do with emotions. When you get the urge to snack, mindful eating gives the perfect platform to take a step back and ask yourself how you’re feeling and what emotions may be playing a part in your cravings. Being super mindful with your eating gives you a lot more opportunity to delve deeper into emotional eating triggers so you can recognize patterns and take action.
Benefit #3: Trusting yourself to make healthy food choices
When it comes to cravings, you’ll often hear advice to remove unhealthy foods from your home to avoid falling victim to temptation. This can help in the early days when you’re first getting the hang of mindful eating and taking steps to change your eating habits but it’s not necessarily something you’ll need to stick with in the long term. Not if you’re committing to mindful eating, anyway!
Once you can get to grips with mindful eating, you can have a whole heap more trust in your ability to make healthy food choices, even when there are some not-so-healthy options in the vicinity. It’s about building a better relationship with food in the long term.
Mindful eating can give you more control over cravings and limit how much you consume when you indulge your cravings. Over time, it becomes a lot easier to satisfy yourself with just a few bites, rather than overeating in super quick time.
And sometimes, you’ll just lose the appetite for junk food altogether! Slowing down your eating can make you much more appreciative of the tastes and textures of your food but when it comes to processed food, you may not enjoy the reality as much as you did when you were eating less mindfully.
Benefit #4 – Encouraging you to live in the moment
Do you find it hard to be in the present moment? Mindful eating can be a great way to practice this to a much bigger extent. Tuning into your eating habits regularly gets you into the habit of being in the present and over time, it becomes a lot easier to master. If you’re looking for a way to include more mindfulness in your average day, mindful eating is a great choice.
A few tips for making sure that you stay truly mindful when you’re eating?
- Check in with your body while you’re eating and ask yourself how you feel. One of the best things to ask? How full you’re feeling. When you put this question to yourself, the break from eating can help you to recognize that you might be feeling fuller than you realized.
- Sit down (preferably at a table) when you eat, even if you’re only having a quick snack. And definitely keep the devices out of reach. Putting your sole focus on your food makes it easier to be mindful. If you tend to eat on the go or while you’re watching television or using devices, this is a big one to switch up.
- Notice the tastes, textures and smells linked to what you’re eating. It can help to keep your eyes closed when you take that first bite and let your senses take over.
- Take deep, calming breaths between bites. When you’re used to eating fast, you’ll often barely breathe in between bites but taking a bit of time to rectify this can slow things down and help you to be more mindful.
Benefit #5 – Less bloating and indigestion
Struggling with bloating, indigestion and other digestive problems? This is yet another area where mindful eating can have positive effects. Eating at a much slower pace means there is less potential for bloating and other digestive discomfort. The main reason? You swallow less air and chewing each bite thoroughly before you swallow breaks your food down into really small pieces for better digestion. The end result? Far more potential for a happy gut!
Practicing mindful eating will help shift you out of mindless munching (Danger, Will Rogers) and your food relationship will improve! I would love to hear about your shifts if you give it a try! Join my Eat Free Live Fierce FB group where you can be supported and find valuable info (like my free mindful eating challenge)!