It doesn’t always take a juicy beef steak to savor your food. Being mindful when you eat will make even a simple soup seem exhilarating. Fitness coach and founder of Innovation Fitness Solutions, Robert J DeVito says that mindful eating is not about eating whatever you want, whenever you want it; it’s about finding balance between your body, mind, thoughts, and feelings. It is an approach that involves being present, and paying full attention to the process of eating—to all the tastes, smells, thoughts, and feelings that arise during a meal.
By identifying your body’s natural cues, you become present enough to be aware of physical hunger. What this means is that you can effectively eliminate unnecessary cravings. It’s not always possible to catch it, but it can be learned over time. Even if you love food and its various textures and aromas, it’s important that you eat to live, not live to eat.
New York-based life coach and mindful eating practitioner, Melanie Rudnick says that this awareness eradicates the desire to overeat. It allows us to enjoy food without fearing it, to realize that our bodies know what to do, and to maintain our natural, healthy weight without dieting. It helps us trust ourselves. But, that’s not all—practicing mindful eating has several other health benefits too.
How It Helps
- Being wholly satisfied with what you eat can promote better moods and a healthy weight, as well as can help cope with stress.
- It eliminates the occurrence of emotional eating, or stress eating, which otherwise leads to weight gain.
- It changes the way your brain relates and recognizes food, which helps you avoid junk food cravings.
- It strengthens your awareness about how you feel about food, and how your food choices affect your health and life.
- It allows you to savor, appreciate and enjoy every bite you eat, even if it maybe a simple meal. It awakens your sense of sight and smell for the various ingredients in the food.
- Concentrating on each bite helps you feel satiated, and makes you appreciate what you have on the plate.
- In doing this, the food, no matter how simple, starts tasting better (without the addition of unhealthy ingredients like calorie-laden sauces).
Practicing Mindful Eating
Dietician Katie Grubiak, who blends the western and eastern philosophies of nutritional healing, shares insights to help you eat mindfully.
- Notice the level of hunger going into the meal (by observing the stomach sensations, energy, or irritability). What food is your body calling in? Listen for a response. What does your hunger lead you to select in terms of food choices and portion sizes, as well as the food combinations?
- Once plated, notice in detail the aromas, flavors, textures, and colors of each food in front of you. Become one with the full sensory experience.
- Savor each and every bite. Focus on the food. Put down the fork often, to enjoy the chewing. Avoid any distractions. Sit down. Turn off the TV, phones, and computers. This will help you be in tune with your body, and what it really needs.
- Catch the mind looping in negativity. If judgment arises in what and how much you are eating, compassionately move to the present moment and know there is peace there. Avoid rigid rules and food shaming. Food becomes just food in all its true glory, without strong negative emotions and judgments attached.
A healthy attitude towards yourself, your body and food is sure to benefit you. Happiness comes when you aren’t obsessed with everything you do or don’t consume. The longer you do it, the more natural it becomes. Babies are mindful eaters because they eat when they are hungry and don’t, when they’re not. Maintaining healthy weight comes naturally with mindful eating as well.