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5 Strategies for Mindful Eating

It should come as no surprise that mindfulness is a very effective strategy for improving your relationship with food. Here are a few ways to take advantage of the power of mindfulness as you work to build better eating habits.

By
Andrew Charles, Partner
4-minute read

Mindfulness is a beneficial practice that entails slowing down, taking note of body sensations and thoughts, and then applying that knowledge to build improved self-awareness and peace in various areas of your life. It should come as no surprise that mindfulness is a very effective strategy for improving your relationship with food. Here are a few ways to take advantage of the power of mindfulness as you work to build better eating habits.

Slow Down

Our lives are so fast-paced and chaotic these days that it's no wonder we apply the same mentality to our meal preparation and consumption. Furthermore, when we eat on the go, we're even more likely to simply scarf down our meals, leading to other problems such as poor digestion. Unfortunately, research shows that when you eat your food too fast it often results in overindulgence. Multiply those excess calories over the course of weeks and months, and without a doubt, you're bound to see rapid weight gain. When you eat, it can take up to 20 minutes for your stomach to get signals to your brain that you're full, so you can use mindfulness to slow down your meal consumption, thereby decreasing your chances of overeating.

To really put the potential of mindful eating to work here, consider focusing on the sensory experience of the meal, including the colors, textures, flavors, and temperatures of each food you're eating. Take the experience one bite at a time, really savoring every morsel of food.

Use an App

Mindful eating apps such as Go Eat Right Now are an excellent addition to any mindful eating program or personal eating plan. In contrast with other weight loss apps that merely track calories in and calories out, mindful eating apps help you accurately document your experience with food and build healthier habits through research-based mindful eating strategies. In addition, these apps provide you with tools to use when you face real-life eating challenges, such as intense food cravings.

Get a Buddy

Just as with any area of challenge in your life, it's helpful to approach the task of mindful eating with a partner. This might be as simple as intentionally sharing mealtime with a friend or loved one (helping you to slow down mealtime and cut back on excess food intake as mentioned before), planning meals with a friend who shares healthy eating habits, or participating in a mindful eating program with a partner. Research shows that people who participate in an eating program with friends lose more of their body weight over a six month period compared to those who don't (those participating with friends lost as much as 8% of their body weight; those participating solo only lost about 5% of their total weight).

Mindfulness is a very effective strategy for improving your relationship with food.

Keep it Simple

One of the biggest hurdles to engaging in mindful eating is all of the preparation that goes into it. First, you have to plan which meals you'll prepare, then you must purchase healthy ingredients, prepare the meals, and ultimately serve them — and then you have to clean everything up. Because this process takes a great deal of time and patient work, it's helpful to choose simpler meals in the first place. Consider preparing all-in-one dishes to help make your job a little easier: sheet pan dinners, one-pot stovetop dinners, slow cooker meals, or even no-cook meals. When you do cook, you can also double your recipes and freeze several portions for a future meal. By increasing the simplicity of your meals, you'll have more time to enjoy the cooking and eating processes, taking everything in with all of your senses. With these simple meals, you'll also be able to carve out the time to have a leisurely, mindful mealtime.

Check out the Nutrition Diva for healthy eating tips and tricks.

Eliminate Distractions

Even if you're not eating on the go, mealtimes can still be distraction-filled periods, making it difficult to be present and mindful as you engage in your meal experience. Consider turning off the TV, stepping away from your desk, and putting down your phone as you sit down for a meal. Ask any meal guests to set aside distractions as well so you can all engage in this more mindful mealtime together. To help set the tone for this distraction-free environment, you might take the time to pause and say grace or ponder a few things you are grateful for just before you enjoy your food, even if you're not religious. This extra moment of slowing down and preparing to eat with a moment of thankfulness may help you to focus more on the meal and the experience it creates.

Building a healthier relationship with food might be as simple as building new habits around it. Mindfulness can provide you with the attitude and tools necessary to develop and maintain these habits. With a little practice, mindfulness can help you create a relaxed atmosphere and sensory-filled experience that makes mealtime more pleasant for everyone.

Check out QDT's Everyday Mindfulness playlist on Spotify for more mindfulness hacks.