What is it and how can you incorporate it into your life?
Mindful eating has emerged as a prominent topic in the world of nutrition — yet it isn’t just another fad diet. Mindfulness is becoming a popular way of getting in touch with your body and emotions when it comes to food. This practice shifts one’s focus from external factors and places it on internal physical and emotional sensations regarding the body and it’s nutrition. Mindfulness empowers individuals to be the experts of their own bodies, without criticism or judgement.
While the idea of mindful eating may seem to be a new concept, we’ve all unknowingly put it into practice at one point in our lives. It’s something we were able to do as children, unbeknownst to us at the time, as it was simply an idea we didn’t have to think twice about. Children are driven by their hunger cues and are professionals at listening to their bodies. They eat when they’re hungry, stop when they’re full and eat foods they enjoy without inner judgement. As we get older, years of incorporating various diets, the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, and the influence of our surroundings can begin to create a disconnect between our bodies and food.
How can we begin to bridge that gap? Mindfulness is a skill that requires continuous practice, but making space for a few rituals in your day-to-day is a great way to get started. Here are a few small ways you can begin!
- Put a halt to the multitasking during meals. How can we truly listen to our bodies if there are outside stimuli pulling our attention in different directions? Putting away your phone, turning off the TV, or even closing that book can all help you get more in tune with your body and it’s needs during your meal.
- Slow down and be intentional about your food. It’s not uncommon for us to be rushing through our day, trying to complete each task as quickly as possible to move on to the next bullet on the to-do list. Eating doesn’t have to fall into this category! Slow yourself by putting the fork down between every other bite. Slowing your pace also allows time for your gut to communicate with your brain in regards to your hunger and satiety levels.
- Check in with yourself during meal times. Have you ever eaten a meal and didn’t even remember what it tasted like? Practicing mindfulness allows you to fully enjoy your meal and the environment around you. During those pauses (mentioned in tip #2), connect with your senses. How does the food look, taste, and smell? Acknowledging your senses allow you to be fully present when eating.
- Listen to your body’s signals. So many of us have been here: you just ate lunch an hour ago yet your stomach is growling as if it never happened. Your body’s telling you that you need to eat, but your brain is saying you should wait until dinner since you just ate. Your body knows best when you’re feeling hungry or when you’re ready to stop. Tune into these cues and honor them without judgement.
- Meet with a Registered Dietitian! Talking with a nutrition professional can be a great way to find ways to practice mindfulness that align with your lifestyle. Dietitians are trained to use different tools to help you make the transition into mindful eating and achieving your nutrition goals.
Amber Morris, MS, RDN, LDN
Amber Morris is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with Nutrition HealthWorks, a nutrition practice based out of Charlotte, NC. If you’d like more information about creating a custom nutrition plan that is right for you, click here to contact us!