By Lauren Baker
We’ve all heard the term mindful eating, but what does it actually mean?
Fundamentally, it involves eating slowly without distraction and listening to your body. You eat when you feel hungry and stop when you feel full – ignoring whether or not the clock says it's lunchtime.
This helps distinguish the difference between boredom and hunger, along with appreciating food and how it feels when you eat it. An easy example is eating a nutrient-dense sandwich slowly for lunch will make you feel better than grabbing a chocolate bar at the train station before a meeting.
So, how can we practice mindful eating on a daily basis?
- Turn off the TV.
This is a hugely important one! You tend to eat quicker when you’re watching TV or even reading a book. One second you look down to see a full plate, the next it’s empty! Get away from distractions and actually enjoy the food you’re eating rather than throwing it down quickly.
- Sit down at a table
Eating on the go might be convenient, but you’re less likely to make a balanced choice. You’ll also appreciate your food much more if you aren’t worrying about the person on the train next to you judging your choice of sandwich…
- Put your fork down between bites
This makes it almost impossible to rush your meal as it automatically slows you down, and allows you time to actually think about what you’re eating. It might feel a little weird at first but over time it will become second nature.
- Chew slowly
How many times when you were younger did mum remind you to chew your food? Although this was probably to avoid you choking, it’s also great advice for mindful eating! Take the time to taste your food and enjoy what you eat before you take your next bite. Maybe not ideal if you aren’t the best cook though..
- You don’t need to clear your plate
Again, something you were probably told as a child, but you don’t actually need to do this anymore. Listen to your body. If you feel full, just stop eating. You can always save leftovers for later so they don’t go to waste.
Remember to eat in a way that suits you and your lifestyle. For example, it might not be possible to eat lunch when your body is hungry because of an allotted break time, but try mindful eating when you have dinner instead! This will help form good habits and there’s no harm in turning off the TV or eating slightly slower, after all.