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  • Writer's pictureAli

5 Habits of Mindful Eating

Updated: Jan 11



Mindful eating is a simple method of becoming hyper-focused on the present moment and being aware of your senses while eating food. It can help manage eating habits and make people feel better about their bodies. 


The purpose is not counting calories or tracking macros (carbohydrates, fat, or protein), and mindful eating has little to do with weight loss. Yet, it is proven to help with losing weight. The intention is to help individuals understand and enjoy the food they eat and remove stresses associated with overeating unhealthy foods. Mindful eating can be a fun way to make mealtimes social or a time to reflect and savor the moment as a solo experience. 


Benefits of Mindful Eating:

Mindful eating redefines our approach to food and yields remarkable benefits. According to a study by the Journal of Obesity, embracing mindful eating reduces binge-eating episodes by 53%. This approach cultivates a profound awareness of the sensory aspects of eating, curbing overindulgence and fostering a healthier relationship with food. 


By savoring each bite and paying attention to hunger cues, individuals can experience reduced stress-eating, improved digestion, and better weight management. Mindful eating empowers us to break free from fad diets, facilitating sustainable, long-term wellness through a conscious connection with the nourishment we consume. 


HABIT ONE - Try The Raisin Exercise:

The Raisin mindful eating technique is a simple mindfulness exercise that is specifically designed to increase your awareness during meals. The exercise involves observing a single raisin (or any small food item) closely, using your senses deliberately. 


First, you will need to take note of its appearance, then feel its texture and temperature. Next, inhale its scent before slowly bringing it toward your mouth. When you place it on your tongue, focus on its taste without chewing right away. Slowly chew the raisin, feeling its texture and taste change. Finally, swallow it intentionally. 


This practice helps you to concentrate on the present moment, encouraging a deeper connection with eating, enhancing your appreciation for food, and promoting mindful consumption habits.


Raisin Exercise Checklist:

  • Preparation: Start by selecting a raisin or a small piece of food. Sit in a quiet, comfortable space where you won't be disturbed. 

  • Observation: Take a moment to really look at the raisin. Notice its texture, color, and any ridges or imperfections. 

  • Touch: Hold the raisin between your fingers and feel its texture. Pay attention to its temperature, weight, and any sensations in your fingers. 

  • Smell: Bring the raisin close to your nose and take in its aroma. Notice any scents or subtle fragrances. 

  • Slow Movement: As you bring the raisin to your mouth, do so very slowly. Pay attention to the movement of your hand, arm, and fingers. 

  • Taste: Place the raisin in your mouth but don't chew it. Rest it on your tongue. Notice any taste, sensations, or changes in your mouth. 

  • Chewing: Slowly start chewing the raisin. Pay attention to the texture, taste, and how the sensation changes as you chew. 

  • Swallowing: When you're ready, swallow the raisin. Be aware of the swallowing process and how it feels. 

  • Reflection: Take a moment to reflect on the experience. How did the raisin's appearance, texture, smell, taste, and chewing process engage your senses? How does this exercise differ from your typical way of eating? 


HABIT 2 - Just Ask "Why?"

Our body communicates with us in various ways, such as through physical sensations that signal when action is needed, such as the "rumbly stomach" indicating hunger for energy. 


Ignoring these signals may lead to low blood sugar and discomfort. Addressing this physical hunger is a straightforward process; simply eating can alleviate these symptoms. 


However, complications can arise when emotional factors intervene, giving rise to what is known as psychological hunger. This type of hunger is driven by snacking and overeating based on feelings rather than actual energy needs. Cravings, boredom, and emotional eating fall under this category. Research has identified boredom as a primary trigger for psychological hunger, as seen in cinema snack sales that combat movie dullness. Breaking free from boredom-triggering situations involves taking simple steps, such as going for a walk, changing your playlist, or questioning your craving. 


For instance, when craving a snack, try grabbing a glass of water instead. Drinking water to fulfill your craving can help you become more mindful about snacking prompts. This simple practice can aid in recognizing and effectively addressing emotional eating triggers.


HABIT 3 - Slow Down

When we eat, it takes about 20 minutes for our body to feel full. By eating slowly and taking our time, we give our gut and brain enough time to communicate and synchronize with each other. This helps us to avoid overeating and improves our digestion. 


Here are some top strategies that can help us enjoy our meals in a more satisfying way: 


1. Set a timer: Before you start eating, set a timer for 20 minutes on your phone. Take a few deep breaths and try to stretch out your meal over this period. Relax and savor every bite of your food.


2. Pause method: If you find it challenging to extend your meal, try putting your fork down between bites. Using chopsticks or taking breaks for sips of water can also help you slow down. For an extra pause, step away from the table for three deep breaths before returning to your meal.


3. Chew deliberately: Chewing thoroughly helps us to break down our food, which aids digestion and triggers quicker feelings of fullness. In the first 5 minutes of your meal, take smaller bites and chew around 20 times per bite before swallowing.


HABIT 4 - Remove Distractions

Distracted eating has become a common phenomenon, where people consume food while engaging in other activities like watching TV or browsing social media. 


However, a review of 24 studies by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals that distracted eating leads to overeating and a negative relationship with food. 


To overcome this, we can adopt the mindful eating principle and try simple habits like turning off the TV while having dinner or switching our phone to airplane mode during mealtime. These habits can help us avoid distractions and develop a healthier relationship with food.


HABIT 5 - Predict The Future

Visualizing how we might feel after a meal before we start eating can help us develop a better connection with the food we consume and avoid any negative feelings. Before starting to eat, it's helpful to ask ourselves a few questions such as: Will consuming this food stir up any emotions? Why do we think these emotions are coming up? Are we eating to satisfy hunger or to cope with a specific emotion or issue in our day? Will this meal be nourishing? If not, why not? 


The aim of this activity is to increase our awareness of our emotional responses to food and to gain a better understanding of how our feelings can impact how we eat, not just what we eat.


 

Written by Ali.

Live in Harmony Co-Creator.

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