Food

19 Tips To Master Mindful Eating

Eating is one of life’s simplest pleasures – it’s okay to go slow ;)

Do you eat in front of the TV every night? In the car? Out of takeaway containers? When you’re bored or sad? Mindful eating is a term that’s been bouncing around a lot lately, and it’s all about undoing those habits. It’s about slowing the f down when you eat, and taking the time to savour your food – rather than shoving it down your gob in two seconds flat (guilty). It’s about paying attention: to what you’re eating, why you’re eating, and how food makes you feel.

Here’s how to eat mindfully!

Tune into your appetite…

Are you actually hungry? Or are eating because you’re stressed, sad, bored or annoyed? Before polishing off everything in the fridge or pantry, figure out if you’re hungry or not. The easy way to do this is by listening to your body. If you’re feeling lightheaded, low in energy or distracted, or your stomach is straight up growling, those are signs that you should eat. We alllll eat for emotional reasons, but mindful eating allows you to know how to separate those triggers from real hunger.

If you’ve already eaten but you’re still hungry, drink a glass of water or make a cuppa and try to wait it out. The brain takes 20 minutes to signal to the body that you’re full, so your mind could just be playing catch-up.

Sit down to eat…

There are no medals for multitasking! Rather than rushing around or eating when you’re walking/driving, only eat when you’re still. By sitting down to eat – even if it’s at your coffee table – you’ll be able to keep track of how much you’re eating. You’ll also look forward to your next meal, because you know you get to chill out for a few minutes. Plus, you’ll find that you can digest your food better. That’s because when you’re doing a million things, your body can’t focus on breaking down food.

Step away from the screens…

Have you ever started watching a show, only to look down realise you’ve eaten your ENTIRE plate of food in the first five minutes? Yep, screens are so distracting, and they make us less aware of what and how much we’re eating. Tech can also make us anxious and fill up our brain with to-do tasks, which isn’t great for our stress levels and digestion. If you can, don’t eat when you’re working, watching TV, or scrolling through Insta. To eat mindfully, you need to be present – and you can’t do that when you’re writing passive-aggressive emails, getting caught up in GOT or stalking that beautiful blogger. Warning: this will feel VERY weird at first, but it gets easier.

Mindfulness

Take a few breaths before eating…

This forces you to pause, which calms down the body. It can also help to ease any anxiety you have around food and/or what you were doing before eating.

Put your food on a plate…

Make it as pretty as an Insta picture, or not – either way, spend two seconds plating up your food (even if it’s takeaway!) and adding garnishes like herbs and spices. This simple trick helps you to avoid overeating and makes you fully appreciate your food. It’s hard to do that when it’s hidden in a bag or box!

Use a smaller plate

If portion control (or all-you-can-eat buffets) is your weakness, try serving your food on a smaller plate. This tricks the brain into thinking that if it sees less, it craves less.

Place your fork down between every bite…

Yep, every one! Your food ain’t going anywhere, so there’s no need to rush. The act of setting your fork (or spoon) down makes you slowww down, chew your food, and savour the flavours and textures.

Chew, chew, and chew some more…

Go for 10-20 chews per mouthful, or until your food is liquid. Your gut will love ya – and it gives it time to send a message to the brain when you’re full. Remember, your stomach doesn’t have teeth, so it has a much harder time breaking down food and getting it ready for your next 💩  Sorry!

Savour the first bite with your eyes closed…

This is a bit airy-fairy, but it works. By giving that bite – and all its flavours, aromas and textures – your full attention, you’ll set yourself up for mindful eating.

Act like you’re a food critic…

Whether you’re eating a fine dining dinner or last night’s leftovers, do what a food critic does and eat slowly and carefully. This will help you to get into the habit of savouring your food. Think about the taste – is it sweet, salty, sour, bitter? And the texture – is it creamy or crunchy? Do you love it or hate it?

Play a game…

At a restaurant? Try to identify all the different ingredients in your meal. It’s an easy way to be present and participate in mindful eating, plus it might even make you more creative in the kitchen!

Eat everything with chopsticks…

Unless you grew up wielding chopsticks like a pro, this will feel unnatural. Those nifty little sticks will help you to slow down and eat more consciously. As a bonus, they also restrict how much you can hold in one bite, which make them perrrfect to practice mindful eating.

You can also try eating with your non-dominant hand (aka your left hand), though that might become really annoying, really quickly.

Forget the idea of cleaning your plate…

Many of us were brought up to finish every morsel of food on our plate, or else. Wasting food isn’t great, but that’s what leftovers are for, so it’s time to ditch that idea for good. Eat until you’re full, and then stop and save the rest.

Tell yourself you can eat more food later…

There’s no need to inhale it right now. This reassuring reminder can work wonders.

Diet tips that work

Switch up what or where you eat…

If you eat the same thing every day, you’ll a) get beyond bored and b) eat on autopilot. To combat mindless eating, try mixing up the menu from time to time. New ingredients, cuisines and cooking techniques will tantalise the ol’ tastebuds, and make you mindful of what you’re putting in your mouth. You can also eat in a different place, like outside instead of in the kitchen.

Appreciate your food…

This is a really lovely habit. Before you start eating, take a sec to think about your food, where it came from and the work that went into putting it together. A lot of people in this world don’t know where their next meal is coming from. We’re so lucky that we do.  

Challenge yourself to make each meal last 20 minutes…

Call it a game or a goal – just make it your mission. All of these tips will help you to stretch out your meal a little bit longer.

Check in with yourself after eating…

When you’re finished eating, think about how you feel. Are you satisfied? Did your food energise you, or make you feel tired or bloated? Are you craving something sweet? Soon enough, you’ll figure out what food works for you, and which ones don’t.

Stop eating when you’re 80% full…

There’s nothing worse than feeling overly stuffed, and like you could roll right out of the room. Part of mindful eating is knowing when to stop!

What are your tips for mindful eating?

Tips by Katia Iervasi 

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