Have you heard of mindful eating? It is becoming more prevalent and is something many can benefit from. Mindful eating summed up in one phrase could be “being attentive to our feelings and thoughts when we eat”. As adults we eat for many reasons (when we can, what we can afford, what we have time to prepare or purchase, etc.), but we may have been better about eating mindfully when we were younger. Have you noticed babies typically let us know when they are hungry, and often stop eating on their own even if the bottle may not be empty? Kids may ask a parent for something to eat when they feel hungry, or may push away food when they feel full. How often do you really listen to your hunger and fullness cues?
Why should you practice mindful eating? This style of dining provides greater enjoyment of eating, and allows us to eat more appropriate portions of foods without feeling deprived. We tend to gain weight when we stop a diet, as diets are often quite restrictive and leave us hungry for more food. Practicing mindful eating can help guide you to eating smaller portions of more satisfying foods, as well as incorporate more healthful foods along the way. Really evaluating our meal in-depth can help slow down our eating pace, and allow us to eat smaller portions while still feeling our desired “full” or “satisfied” feeling. It does take some time for our tummies to alert our brains that we are full, so slower eating can help shrink portions.
Try out mindful eating with the next meal you can eat at a leisurely pace.
First, pick a relaxing place for you to eat without distractions. No TV, phone, book, computer, etc. You should be focusing your thoughts on each bite you take, take your time while eating, and evaluate your hunger and fullness cues frequently throughout your meal. Challenge yourself to evaluate your meal with all five senses. Below is an example of how you may perceive eating popcorn with all of your senses:
Sight: golden color from the butter, greasy appearing fingertips after touching popcorn
Smell: like a movie theater
Taste: salty and has a rich fatty flavor from the butter
Texture: soft with occasional harder to chew pieces from the kernels
Sound: “crunching” when you bite into kernels
Kaitlin Slone, MS,RD,LDN,CDE