Beginners guide to mindful eating

In our fast-paced lives, it can be easy to fall into the trap of fast-paced eating. 

This can wreak havoc on our innate connection to our food, seeing us opt for less-than-ideal fast-food options, or mindlessly gobble down a lot more than perhaps we need. 

If you’ve fallen into this trap, you might benefit from a little mindful eating practice. 

Mindful eating is all about experiencing (and enjoying!) what we’re eating, without distraction or judgment. It’s about listening to our bodies and selecting the foods that we know will nourish and fuel us. It’s about eating when we’re truly hungry (not just bored) and stopping when were full (not just when the bowl is empty).

Sounds pretty good, right? So, how can you put mindful eating into practice? Start with these five easy steps. 

  • Check in with yourself before you eat

Too often, we mindlessly reach for something to eat when we’re not actually hungry. Before grabbing that second mid-morning muffin ask yourself: are you even hungry right now? 

Could it be that you’re just bored, or upset, or thirsty? If you are in fact hungry, give yourself permission to eat that muffin! But you might find your needs might be better met in another way, like a talking a walk around the block or making yourself a cup of herbal tea. 

  • Remove distractions 

When it is mealtime, make a meal of it! Turn off the TV, put down your phone and actually sit down to eat your meal with limited distractions. Mealtimes can also be a wonderful chance for families or housemates to connect socially and talk through the challenges and achievements of the day. 

Removing distractions can also help you better connect with the joyful experience that is eating, allowing you to hear the signals from your body that tell you when it’s had enough, and practice gratitude for the food you’ve been able to access. 

  • Breathe 

A simple hack everyone can try at the next meal: just take one big, deep, cleansing breath before you tuck in. 

Slowing down to actually breathe sounds pretty simple, but you’d be surprised by how incredible effective it can be in connecting you in with the task at hand. 

  • Think about more than just the taste

What colour is the food? What does it smell like? Is it hot or warm or cold? Is the texture crunchy, crackly, chewy or soft? 

Yep, turns out eating is a full sensory experience that can be enjoyed from all sorts of angles. Take a second to marvel at that, and how lucky you are to be able to experience it.  

  • Chew slowly and thoroughly 

You are not a bird gobbling down a worm! Rather than scoffing the spaghetti in a few bites, slow it right down and chew your food slowly and thoroughly, taking breaks between each bite to really enjoy the experience. 

We find this is another great hack to be able to better tell when you’ve had enough, so you don’t end up feeling like you’ve overindulged. 

Remember also, mindful eating is like a muscle. You might feel silly at first, but the more you practice it, the easier and more intuitive it will become.