Here are some ways to be more mindful with food
Why bother being more mindful and present with food?
Here’re a couple of reasons:
- mindful eating …facilitate[s] improvement in dietary intake, modest weight loss, and glycemic control.
- benefits for use of mindfulness training on weight-gain prevention in healthy individuals.
- mindful eating may have a greater influence on serving size than daily mindfulness.
- Breathe before meals
Pause before you eat and take three deep breaths. Look at your food, smell your food, take a photo of your food. Be grateful that you have that food and carry that awareness as you eat. How can you remember to do this? I use the Meal Logger app– sharing meal photos might be a reminder to pause. Or, put a sticky note on your desk, lunch box, or fridge to remind you.
- Take regular breaks
Schedule ‘mindfulness breaks’ throughout your work day.
Use a computer timer or your phone to remind you to take a break for a minute. You can use this time to do any number of mindfulness exercises – use your senses, write down something you are grateful for at that moment, stick your head out a window and breathe in some fresh air, do a quick calm.com session.
This makes you less likely to use food as an excuse to take a break, and also trains your brain to better at ‘doing’ mindfulness – which helps when you try to slow down with food.
- Write it out.
Take a couple of minutes before your meal to keep a cravings or emotional eating journal. This can help you identify emotional patterns in your eating so you can stop using food to fill yourself up when you don’t actually need to.
- Use your senses
This one requires no extra time, space, or equipment – you just have to use all six of your sense to experience your food. These are:
- Just eat
Stop multitasking while you eat. As this research shows, multitasking is the enemy of presence and mindfulness. Multitasking guarantees you’ll be thinking about everything except your present self and situation. Try switching off your computer screen, putting your phone on airplane mode, and doing nothing but eat your food.
- Have a schedule + a plan
Instead of eating whatever’s around whenever you feel a bit peckish (or bored), try planning not only your meals and snacks but when you’ll eat them, too.
This gives you a huge way to reduce anxiety around food and gives you the time and space to be mindful in your eating. This is seriously one of the best things you can do for yourself. If you need help getting started with meal planning, click here.
- Try meditation
And finally, I’d be shortchanging you if I didn’t mention the mother of all mindfulness activities: meditation.
This doesn’t have to be some big, intimidating thing where you sit on the floor with your legs crossed, but I’m not going to lie and tell you it’s super easy, either. Anyone who’s being honest will tell you that meditating takes work, but that the benefits are worth it.
Some apps I love are:
- Stop, breathe & think
This study found that you don’t even have to have any meditation experience to get some great benefits, so there’s hope for me yet! If traditional meditation isn’t your thing, have a look at my post about Zentangle – a form of meditation involving drawing.
Pick just one or two of these to try over the next week. Set yourself alarm reminders in your phone, and start practicing.
Being mindful and present with food isn’t easy. It can be especially hard if you’ve had a rough relationship with food in the past and don’t trust yourself to stop eating or to enjoy your food. It can be scary and difficult to stay on track, but the benefits are definitely worth it.