5 Tips on How to Practice Mindful Eating
In the hustle and bustle of an increasingly fast-paced society, eating mindfully might seem like a faraway dream. At Honeycut, we believe the more we can orient large goals into a collective of small lifestyle changes, the more we are able to bring dreams to reality. Keeping this sentiment in mind, we wanted to share some simple and easy changes that can make a world of a difference in our relationship with food.
1. Engaging with the aroma, taste, and texture of your food
It’s very easy to scarf down an entire bag of chips or go back for seconds, thirds, and maybe even fourths when we’re standing around in the kitchen or sitting on the couch watching Netflix. Basically, it’s really easy to get distracted and lose track of how much we’re eating—there’s a low likelihood we’ll even stop to consider whether or not we’re hungry! By reminding ourselves to appreciate the different textures and smells of all the food we’re eating, the pace at which we eat naturally slows down and food takes on a whole new meaning beyond an accessory to Netflix, or something to consume out of boredom.
2. Intentionally creating a time and a space for mealsFollowing the idea of eliminating distractions, we find it helpful to create a space specifically for sitting down and enjoying a meal—to think about food as an occasion of its own and not as something that can happen without any forethought. This might look different for different people. For some, it might mean setting the table or using matching dishes and for others, it might mean taking the time out of the day to cook a meal. As for most things, finding what works for you is a process of trial and error, but it’s a journey that’s worth undertaking.
3. Paying attention to how much and at what speed we chew
Making a conscious effort to chew food thoroughly can seem like a daunting task, but once it becomes a fully integrated habit, the payoff is huge. Chewing for a longer amount of time helps our stomach metabolize food more efficiently because saliva contains digestive enzymes. On top of that, the more we chew per bite the more satiated we feel, the logic being that the flavor of the food stays in contact with, and lingers in your mouth for longer. Understanding the relationship between our eating habits (e.g. chewing) and appetite is one of the first steps in implementing mindful eating in our lives.
4. Practicing gratitude before eating
The convenience of packaged and readily prepared foods in grocery stores nowadays often does not portray the full story of how that food reached store aisles. Even though we have an idea of the process from something starting as a seed to arriving in a store for us to purchase, it’s often stored away in the back of our minds. Mindfully eating means consciously reviewing this process, even just an expedited version of the amount of work it took to cultivate what’s on our plates every day. Practicing gratitude gives us the mental bandwidth to appreciate what we’re putting in our bodies, and on a more general level creates feelings of happiness and optimism
5. Taking a moment to cope with feelings of anxiety or guiltAlthough it can be a discomforting notion to confront, if you’ve ever felt guilt or shame over behaviors such as binge eating, not acknowledging the issue allows it to fester and become more severe—before we realize it, we can get stuck in a seemingly endless cycle. Summoning up the courage to grapple with these issues is a central part of mindful eating that can help circumvent certain behaviors such as emotional eating or binge eating. Obviously that isn’t to say that mistakes will never happen so long as you practice mindful eating, but it is to say that you’ll be better equipped to deal with those problems if they do occur.
About the Author:
Anna Wang is currently a college student attending Northwestern University. She moved to Chicago from California and loves exploring the city in her free time—or more realistically staying in her dorm and watching Criminal Minds with a cup of tea in hand. Anna tries her best to stay healthy by stocking up on fruits and occasionally boiling vegetables in her dorm... she is giving it her all! Find her on Instagram @annavwang or LinkedIn