How many of us out there sit and mindlessly eat in front of the television? Or perhaps eat whenever we are bored, sad, happy, mad or really any other emotion we can think of? When out in a social situation do you feel obligated to eat whatever is offered or order similarly to the group? You are not alone in this!! Most people struggle with mindless eating. While most of us are aware of what foods we are actually consuming, few put much thought into how we are eating or if we are actually even hungry. By applying the What, Where, Why, When, and How Much principle of mindful eating, we can become more present in our daily food routine! These steps will over time help curb cravings, lower consumption of extra calories, and open our eyes to the joy of food and the nourishment it can bring.
The next time you are about to eat, stop and ask….
What: What is it that I am choosing to eat? Will it nourish my body in a healthy way?
Where: Where am I eating this food? Am I in front of the TV, vegging out on the couch? Am I in a social situation? Is this location affecting my food choices?
Why: Why am I eating right now? Am I actually hungry? Am I eating this because of an emotional response? Do I feel obligated because of my surroundings?
When: Am I eating because “Well I always have a snack at 5pm”? When do I want to eat the most? Am I actually hungry at this time?
How/ How Much: How am I eating my food? Am I eating slowly or quickly? Am I listening to my body’s cues of fullness? How much food is on my plate?
By simply taking the time to stop and think about our eating process we are already practicing mindful eating. A great way to integrate this into your routine is to pick just one meal a week. At this meal, after you have assessed if you are really hungry, pick something that you consider a healthy food choice and not your go-to “feel better” food. Enjoy the meal in a quiet place with no distraction. I mean NO TV, NO phones, NO husbands/wives/friends/children!!! Take your time with each bite and try to make the meal last at least 20 minutes; I find that setting the fork down between bites helps with this. Listen to your body to see when you are actually full or if you are simply finishing your plate out of habit or obligation. It will feel so awkward at first but over time you will appreciate food and the act of eating in ways you never have before. Eventually you will be able to apply these mindful eating practices regularly, even in social situations. Happy Mindful Eating everyone…YUM!!!!