Mindful eating gets its roots in Buddhist teachings, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit and intensely meditate over your food like a nutrition-obsessed yogi. It’s a practice of consuming meals with a more thoughtful, aware approach of what — and how much — you’re putting into your body, and being better at recognizing your hunger and fullness levels. Summer can be a tough time to stick to a healthy eating plan, especially when there’s no shortage of BBQs and summer wedding parties to attend. So if you find yourself shoveling in unhealthy snacks without giving it a second thought every time you’re social, stressed out or just plopping down on the couch with Netflix, here are some tips on how to take a more mindful approach to eating.
1. Choose what you eat. If you’re eating the same thing day in and day out, is it really because that’s what appeals to you in the moment, or are you stuck in a food rut?
2. Engage your senses. If you can’t remember the last time you walked past your kitchen and thought “Wow, that smells delicious” or reflected on the texture of your favorite dish, you’re missing opportunities to engage more of your senses to truly taste and enjoy every bite of your food more fully.
3. Quit multitasking: Say it with us: No more lunches at your desk! You want to be present and in the moment for meals.
4. Slow down. If you take more time for meals and to savor your food, you’ll have an easier time recognizing when you’re actually full. Some people even try things like eating exclusively with chopsticks or chewing 25 times to ensure they’re taking more time to eat. These kinds of tactics can also help with smaller bites that you’ll be able to digest more easily.
5. No TV at the dinner table. Or for any of your meals, for that matter. If you’re too busy binge-watching, all of a sudden you might find you totally binged on your food too. And to that end…
6. Actually eat at a table. No more meals slumped over the coffee table or sitting on the couch. It’s about being more deliberate and taking the time to formalize your approach to eating and focus on your food.
7. Practice plating. You don’t have to artfully plate your meals like your leftovers were reheated by a world-class chef, but the simple act of putting your food on a plate, rather than eating out of a bag or Tupperware, will make you more mindful and aware of what you’re consuming.
8. Get to know your food. If you’re growing your own veggies or relishing each trip to the farmers’ market for locally grown produce and fresh-baked bread, you’ll think more about your food and how you value it. Being in touch with the story behind what you eat is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint too.
9. List the ingredients. While you’re eating, challenge yourself to see if you can name all of the ingredients in your food. It’s kind of cheating if you made it yourself, but you’ll still get the mindful benefits from taking the time to really seek out and note specific tastes.
10. Keep it quiet. If you’re sharing a meal with others, suggest that you keep the conversation at a minimum while you eat. (Hopefully, no one’s talking with their mouth full, anyway!) And you especially want to stop any conversations about dieting and weight gain in their tracks — you don’t need that negativity spoiling your dinner.
What are your secrets to mindful eating? Tweet us @BritandCo!
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