How to Practice Mindful Eating

Mindfulness has plenty of benefits including improving focus, overall satisfaction, and general happiness. 

There are lots of ways to be mindful. For example, a study by Harvard Health shows how mindful breathing is one method to lower blood pressure and decrease stress. Deep breathing can also help reduce anxiety, panic, and social isolation. Over the years, mindfulness has been shown to be an effective way to improve mental health. A look into how psychological theories affect people by Maryville University, found that a person’s mental health has an impact on everything from their learning ability to how they complete business objectives. As a result, more people are looking for natural ways to improve their mental and physical well-being. Mindfulness is one of most effective and easiest ways to change lifestyle habits.

Mindful eating, like meditation or breathing, is a mindfulness practice that can help strengthen your mental health and improve your general well being. Here are some ways you can practice mindful eating, and the benefits that come with it.

Are you hungry, or simply craving?

If you are eating just because it is right there (especially when you open the fridge), or because you have nothing else better to do – stop right away. Your body knows when it needs food, and when it is just taking in the excess calories.

It is important to know the difference between cravings and hunger. For example, if you feel like having a snack soon after eating a meal, that is a sign that you are craving food. Recognizing these cravings is a big part of mindful eating and changing your habits.

Eat slowly and chew thoroughly

It takes about 20 minutes for your body to realize that it is full, so try to make the meal last for at least that long. Take smaller bites of your food, and chew slowly. Studies published on Healthline show that people who eat quickly tend to weigh more than those who do not.

Eating slowly increases the amount of gut hormones in your body responsible for feeling full, and chewing thoroughly slows down your eating pace – which reduces the number of calories you take in. It can also help improve digestion, and allow you to savor your food better – leading to more interesting meals.

Eliminate distractions

Eating simultaneously with another activity can increase the amount of food you consume, because your brain is too distracted to tell you that you are full. Recent research listed on PsyPost found that eating while distracted increases caloric intake by 15%, compared to those who practice mindful habits.

Focus on your meal without the distractions provided by your TV, laptop, or mobile phone. You will realize how much less food your body needs to be satisfied.

Avoid stress eating

Stress can blow out the adrenal glands, requiring treatment for adrenal fatigue. We get it, eating when you are sad or angry helps you suppress and soothe any negative feelings. A study on PubMed suggests that stress is the primary cause for changes in eating patterns, and heavily affects the kind of food you choose to consume. However, stress eating can lead to various diseases associated with overeating, like obesity and high blood pressure. Find better ways to deal with your stress such as exercising and reading.

Stop eating when you are full

Finish eating when your stomach tells you to stop, not when the food is all gone. The goal is to eat until you are comfortably full and satisfied. Usually it depends on how physically active you are, or how much sleep you got the previous night. Save the food on your plate for another meal. This will also encourage you to waste less, which is a key part of mindful eating.

Mindful eating is a simple, yet effective technique to help you gain control over your eating habits. If conventional diets don’t work for you, then perhaps this is the solution. A mindful eater chooses what and how much to consume – and results often show that our body needs less than we usually eat. An effective way to get started is to pick one meal (per day) and apply these tips. When you get the hang of it, you will be able to apply it to more meals. Change will not happen overnight, but stay faithful to these habits and you are going to see the results eventually.