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Learning the Practice of Mindful Eating

Enjoy food more. Learn how to conquer mindless eating and establish a healthy relationship with food.

Ever finished a bag of chips, without realizing how much you ate? Or snacked while watching TV, even when you weren’t hungry? Not paying attention to how much you’re eating or when you’re full can be considered mindless eating — and it can contribute to overeating and weight gain. But there are ways you can give each bite the attention it deserves.

Benefits of mindfulness

Mindfulness is the concept of being fully aware of what’s going on in and around you. Mindful eating applies that concept to eating and looks at why, when, where, what and how we eat. This means being aware of our physical and emotional feelings as we eat, which can help us eat more slowly and control our cravings. Here are some potential benefits of eating mindfully:

  • Your brain has time to realize you’ve eaten enough — this can take about 20 minutes
  • You may eat less food and fewer calories
  • You can more mindfully choose to nosh on healthy foods
  • You can enjoy the experience and savor every bite!

Hints for mindful eating

Focusing on your food and being more mindful takes dedication and practice. These tips can help get you started:

  • Take small bites and chew slowly. Finish swallowing before picking up your food again.
  • Put your utensils down for 10 to 15 seconds after a few bites.
  • Savor your food. Use your senses. Notice how it looks and smells. Be aware of the texture of each bite and how it tastes.
  • Make sure to eat in a calm place. Avoid reading. Turn off the TV, computer and phone. Pay attention to what you are eating.
  • Don’t judge yourself or your reaction to the food. But ask yourself: Am I eating too quickly? Am I still hungry?
  • Set a timer for 20 minutes and take the entire time for the meal.
  • Appreciate the meal as an opportunity to care for your body through eating healthfully.

Next time you find yourself eating without really thinking, take a breath and practice eating more mindfully. Your health will be happy you did!

By John Welsh, Contributing Writer

Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthy eating with variety and balance. Accessed October 2, 2017.
National Institutes of Health. News in Health. Mindfulness matters. Accessed October 2, 2017.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. Mindful eating. Accessed October 2, 2017.

Last Updated: October 13, 2017

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