Healthy eating goes beyond just eating fruits and vegetables and avoiding processed junk food. Our relationship with food can play a role in our health, both mentally and physically, and adopting mindful eating habits is a great way to improve how we eat. You may have only heard of mindfulness in the context of meditation, but the practice can be utilized in how you prepare and consume meals.
"Mindfulness is a type of meditation wherein you pay attention on purpose to what is happening right now, with an attitude of compassionate self-observation," says Annie B. Kay, lead nutritionist at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health to Bustle over email. "Mindful eating has been shown to reduce a person’s external chatter about what and how much to eat, and tunes them into their internal guidance system. In today’s world of round-the-clock food advertising, mindful eating tends to help people make healthier choices and to be satisfied with less."
So rather than listen to what anyone else seems to be telling you what/how to eat, learn to listen more to yourself. Whether you just want to be more aware of what you're putting your body or want to take 30 minutes to yourself to unwind and enjoy your food, mindful eating can have its many benefits. If you're thinking about trying to eat more mindfully, try out these six tips that can help you adopt mindful eating habits.
1. Slow Down
Slowing down not only helps you savor your food, but it can help us take the time to think about what's really healthy. "When we practice the power of pause, we give the brain a chance to catch up and we tend to make more integrated, wiser choices," says Kay. Studies also show that eating more slowly can help us recognize the feeling of fullness quicker.
2. Eat With Your Senses
"By taking in your food with your gaze, smelling the aroma, and hearing the sounds you make as you eat, you become more aware and mindful of the process of eating," says Kay. This process can help you enjoy not just the taste of food, but the experience of eating and how it makes you feel.
3. Make Conscious Choices
Taking a second to think about what you want to eat can help combat that desire to scarf down your leftover pizza for breakfast. "[This helps you make] healthy choices about what foods you put in your body," says psychologist Nikki Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC over email.
4. Remove Distractions
"Remove the distractions which take our focus off our eating, such as the TV," says Martinez. When you're distracted while enjoying a meal, you're more likely to overeat, and this also creates an association of craving food every time you're watching your favorite TV show.
"By taking a pause to take a breath between bites, you may find it changes the whole process," says Kay. "Taking breaths in between bites can not only help you slow down, but it can create a relaxing meditative process that can help you become aware of how your body and mind feel in that particular moment.
6. Plan Your Meals
"Family meals are a great way to establish regular meal patterns and to be more mindful of what you're eating," says Jennifer Glockner, RDN over email. "Sit down together rather than eating on the run."
Everyone has a different relationship with food, but taking these extra steps can help deepen your thought process when eating.
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