Phone, television, newspaper, music, radio and notebooks – nowadays we are surrounded by distractions. Hardly anyone focuses completely on what he or she is doing right now. When walking we quickly need to send a message to our friend, when gathering at a friend’s house for some drinks we listen to background music and when having dinner, we are watching the news on television. Time constraint and FOMO (Fear of missing out) let us do several things together without appreciating them. Doing things mindfully will help you to live in the present and absorb all your actions
Mindful eating is key when it comes to being and eating healthy. Not only will you get the full taste out of your meal but you will notice when you are full. Practicing mindful eating plays a crucial role in weight loss and also in recovering from eating disorders such as binge eating.
Observing people with a healthy weight and a healthy relationship to food you will realize that they hardly ever eat anything directly out of the fridge or gorge down their meals. They usually take the time to sit down and enjoy their food by chewing every bite and tasting the different flavors.
Most of us have lost the ability to make time for our meals. In between meetings we gobble down a quick bite whilst standing and in the evening we finish the last emails whilst eating mindlessly our dinner. Additionally we are not able anymore to understand the signals of your body. We just eat because it's time to eat, because we are stressed, because we are bored, because we are sad but not because we are hungry.
The voice of our body is quickly overruled by the voice of our mind. Your body clearly tells you that after a heavy workout he needs the energy back in form of carbohydrates. However, you're mind tells you that you are on a low carb diet and that carbohydrates are bad for you. Over time we develop some rules and start categorizing our food into groups "should eat food" and "should not eat food". With all those rules we slowly start to oppress the voice of our body until he starts to rebel. That's when binge eating finds its way into our lives.
Susan Albers, author of the book “eating mindfully – how to end mindless eating & enjoy a balanced relationship with food” suggests 10 easy ways to practice mindful eating:
- Observe – this is the first step in creating a mindful eating habit. Just watch yourself eat. What is the speed you eat with? In what position are you eating? Who is accompanying you? Where are you when eating?
- Take mindful bites – Experience every single bite you take. How does it taste? What is the texture like?
- Quiz yourself - Before eating ask yourself whether you are physically or emotionally hungry? If it is the latter one – try to find another strategy to satisfy your emotions.
- Be in the moment – Try to eat in a different way. Maybe use your fingers, use the opposite hand or sit in a new position.
- Remove distraction – This is one of the most important steps. Enjoy at least one meal a day without any distraction. Put your phone, your computer, your book away, turn off the TV and just be with your food for a moment
- Categorize less – Try to avoid labeling your food “bad”, “good”, “shouldn’t”. Instead listen to your body and try to choose accordingly.
- Identify the origin of your hunger – This is an important topic for emotional or stress eaters and goes together with point 3. Listen carefully and ask yourself “Am I really hungry?” “Am I just eating because I am stressed out?”
- Speak compassionately to yourself – Be kind to yourself and treat yourself like a friend.
- Start a food diary – Writing down what you eat will help you to be aware what you put into your body. It makes it easier to analyze your eating habits and change them where necessary.
- Let go of old dieting strategies – Just ask yourself “Am I eating mindfully”