I used to be one that if there was a lolly in sight it would be in my mouth before I even realized it. I often would catch myself midafternoon eating a biscuit even though I wasn't hungry but I had made it a habit that midafternoon I would have a cup of tea and a biscuit so that's what I did even though I wasn't hungry. Now during the afternoon I may still have a biscuit but not always, I can now stop and assess whether I am actually hungry and then if I am have something to eat.
One of the biggest problems for people who are unhappy with their weight is not being in tune with their hunger. There is now growing research that shows people who take on a mindful eating approach have lower BMI's and it has also been found that eating mindfully can help treat binge eating disorders and lifestyle diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes.
So what is Mindful Eating? Mindful eating comes from Buddhist teachings; it is based on eating according to our physical hunger cues rather than to our emotional hunger cues (comfort eating). Mindful eating helps us to reconnect with being aware of what we are eating and really enjoying food. Rather than just eating out of habit.
Recently I attended a seminar and we did an exercise on mindful eating. We were given one raisin and before we ate it we had to hold it in our hand and look at it, then smell it, we then had to feel it in between our thumb and index finger and then squeeze the raisin and listen for any noise, at this point I had this real urge to eat it but had to wait. Wow that was hard!! Eventually we popped the raisin in our mouth but had to chew it slowly and not swallow it until told. We had to focus on the taste and the entire experience of what happened. I can tell you I now have a new respect for a raisin and can still recall that experience vividly. I would suggest you try this for yourself.
Now I am not saying that we need to actually do this with every piece of food we eat but try to be more aware of what we are eating and when you eat. Take note of the taste, smell and texture of food rather than just quickly chewing and swallowing.
Here are a few tips to help you start to become more mindful around food:
- Mindful eating is being aware of our hunger cues, so to start with before you eat, ask yourself "Am I really hungry?" Often thirst can be mistaken for hunger so have a glass of water and wait 10 minutes and see if you are still hungry.
- As you eat, savor the smell, taste, texture and appearance of your food.
- Eat slowly, placing your knife and fork down between mouthfuls.
- Eat at the table not standing or walking around.
- Make your plate look nice, pretend you are on a cooking show and presentation is key when plating up.
- Serve up smaller portions and before you head back for seconds, wait 10 - 15 minutes and see if you are still hungry.
- Be aware of times when you tend to grab a snack and before you grab that snack, ask yourself "Am I really hungry?" "Is this the best food to nurture my body?"
- Before you eat, ask yourself on a scale of 1 - 10 how hungry am I? After you have eaten, wait 10 minutes and then revisit the question of how hungry am I and re-rate your hunger.
I would love to know how you go trying this so when you see me, let me know, or email me as I am sure that you will start to become more mindful when eating. You might find that your clothes feel loser. Also I am sure that you will have a new appreciation for how yummy your favorite foods are plus you will find that you will be less likely to end up feeling like you have over eaten.