For most people the hardest part of mindful eating is getting started. The longer you work at it the easier it gets and the better you’ll feel. The main issue is that it’s so different from how we’re used to eating. I’m talkin to myself here….
Look around, the world today is full of people who eat mindlessly. You may even be one of them. How often do you see people go through a fast food drive through, order two or three cheeseburgers, and eat them all within a few minutes? How often do you make or buy lunch and eat it as quickly as possible to get back to your day? What about just snacking mindlessly while watching TV? Or working on your computer? I do both of these more than I would care to admit…. Or doing whatever?
These are habits we’ve learned that lead to an unhealthy relationship with food where we’re eating just to eat rather than to nourish our bodies. Do you want to change that and start eating more mindfully? Here are three tips to get started.
- Understand it doesn’t need to be all or nothing. It can be hard to eat every meal mindfully, especially when you’re first starting. You can start out with just eating a snack a day mindfully while trying harder to watch your hunger cues. Maybe you’ll focus on eating every meal but lunch mindfully because you only have a little bit of time for lunch at work. That’s fine!
Decide ahead of time and stick to that plan. Maybe the first day you will only do it for one meal or snack. Then the next day you will do it for 2 meals etc.
Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t perfect immediately. Like anything else, it takes time to get used to it. You could have been eating in a hurry for your whole life… and then all of the sudden you are trying to change.
- Go somewhere quiet to eat and really focus on your food. Before you take your first bite take a look at the colors and textures in your food. Admire the aroma.
Once you take that first bite, savor it! Enjoy each bite. Put your fork down between bites to help slow yourself down. It’s too easy to take bite after bite without really enjoying your food. By slowing down you’ll feel full faster and also get more time to really appreciate your food. I trick I use sometimes is to actually such out the liquid of the food first, especially if it is a soup.
- Remember, food is meant to nourish your body! There are no bad foods, but there are foods that are going to nourish you better and you should try to include more of those in your daily meals. There are however, a lot of “non foods” so just stay away from them. Hint…anything in a box or envelope – such as hamburger helper or those already prepared spices to make something… like sloppy joe mix, taco mix and that stuff. Sometimes (and it is rare) you can find a “jarred” prepared food that only has actual ingredients in it but, you have to search.
Try flavorful vegetables, colorful fruit, and new foods you may have avoided in the past. It’s amazing how delicious natural foods are when you take the time to really taste them.
I know this is all going to feel a little weird at first. It’s a huge shift in the way you’re probably used to eating, but it’s the first step to eating to nourish your body rather than just to eat.
Believe me, I am not always great at this either but, I am trying to get better. Just remember the old saying that we are supposed to “eat to live” and NOT “live to eat.”
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