Practicing mindfulness around your food and eating habits can stir gratitude and delight in what many consider a mundane daily activity. It can also keep you from over-eating or choosing those not-so-good-for-you foods. So how do we go about it?
Consider your hunger.
First, rate your hunger on a scale from 0-10. You could also assess this by imagining the amount of food you want to eat. Is it a small snack or an entire meal?
Find out what’s behind your hunger.
Ask yourself: Am I truly hungry? Does my body physically need food? Or, is there another reason I’m feeling this way? Do I desire food because I am bored, lonely, or seeking comfort? Am I tired or depressed, stressed or nervous? Am I merely reaching for something to eat out of habit?
Not truly hungry? Have an alternative plan.
Make a list of go-to activities, hobbies, and people you can turn to instead of eating. Lonely at work? Pop over and chat with a coworker for 5 minutes. Are you stressed or tired? Energize yourself with a quick 10-15 minute walk. Nervous or bored? Calm and entertain yourself with your favorite hobby.
Keep mealtimes focused.
Sit down, pay attention to the food on your plate, and put away the distractions. Turn off the computer, the TV, and put your cell phone out of sight. Do feel free to set ambiance with soft music or candles.
Savor and enjoy.
Aside from fueling your body, food is meant to be enjoyed! Match your eating pace to the slowest person in the room, or chew each bite a certain number of times. Put utensils down in between bites so you can pause and acknowledge the flavors and textures, as well as the feelings they evoke.
When real hunger does strike, it’s best to be prepared and not let yourself get too hungry. Keep healthy snacks or fresh fruit around, and a nourishing meal you can assemble in a few minutes. Choose smaller plates and bowls that you can fill up without overdoing it, and enjoy a big glass of water with every meal.