Food for Thought: Tips for Eating Mindfully
By Rutu Shah
UVM MSD Student
When life becomes busy, food often takes second place to stressors. Rather than being viewed as nourishment, it becomes a vice, a burden, or perhaps is not given much thought at all. Mindful eating, or being attentive during meal times, can help you tune into your body’s internal cues. Your body is naturally able to regulate what it wants regarding food selection, preferences, hunger and satiety but often, this ability is altered by emotional stress. Here are some tips to help you eat mindfully.
Check Your Routine
Are you typically eating breakfast in the car on the way to work every morning? Does dinner always happen in front of the TV? By understanding your personal eating pattern, you can notice behaviors that you might like to change. A food journal is useful in keeping track of your diet. Writing down additional information, such as your mood or the place and time of the meal, can help recognize why unhealthy habits may happen.
An ancient proverb states, “When walking, walk. When eating, eat.” By minimizing internal and external distractions and focusing solely on the meal, you can listen to what your body wants naturally. You may notice immediate results, such as becoming full quicker or experiencing a more positive mood.
Focus on Flavor
Take time to notice and appreciate some of the simple pleasures of food while eating – the refreshing smell of a cup of coffee, or that satisfying “crunch” as you bite into a juicy apple. It can help mealtimes become a peaceful respite in an otherwise chaotic day.
Watch Your Words
Using destructive language can cause low self-esteem which can negatively affect your diet. Rather than seeing foods as “good” or “bad”, tune into whether or not the food is something your body wants or needs. Avoid putting yourself down if you “slip” or “cheat”. Positive self-talk can help foster positive attitudes regarding food.
Mindful eating can boost self-awareness about the body’s needs. This can lead to more nourishing food choices and reduce the occurrence of unhealthy eating behaviors (such as binge-eating). Overall, mindful eating helps to promote a positive relationship with food, which is a significant part in the journey of living a healthy lifestyle.
The Center for Mindful Eating. The Principles of Mindful Eating. 2014. Available at: http://www.thecenterformindfuleating.org/principles Accessed July 2014.
Harris, C. Mindful eating — studies show this concept can help clients lose weight and better manage chronic disease. Today’s Dietitian. 2013; 15(3): 32. Available at: http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/030413p42.shtml Accessed July 2014.
National Eating Disorders Association. 7 Mindful Eating Tips. 2004. Available at http://www.uhs.berkeley.edu/eda/7Mindful.pdf Accessed July 2014.