Do you know when you’re hungry or full? Do you stop eating when your plate is done or when you’re full? Are you taking time out of your day for meals? In this post, Dietitian Lauren Fowler shares her tips on eating mindfully – whether you’re just starting out on weight loss or needing a reminder to slow down and listen to your body.
How often are you eating mindfully?
- Do you know when you’re hungry or full? It is when your plate is clear or when your stomach is full?
- Do you take time out of your day for meals?
- Are you eating meals seated or standing on the go?
When someone comes to me wanting to lose weight, I skip over the traditional calorie counting diet and focus on the mind-body approach to food. Instead of focusing on weight loss, I look at food as nourishment, pleasure, and fuel for the body. Mindful eating has been an essential practice that helped me improve my digestion and change my relationship with food, and it’s a topic I discuss with most of my clients.
Mindful eating helps you focus on being present at mealtime. It helps you:
- Connect with your hunger and fullness cues
- Enjoy food more
- Slow down your meals
- May reduce mindless eating and emotional eating
- Promotes a healthy relationship with food
Everyone can give mindful eating a try, and while it does take practice, it’s pretty simple!
Here are top 6 Tips to Start Eating Mindfully Today:
1. Take time out of your busy day to eat.
Rather than eating at your desk or on the go, schedule out 20-30+ minutes to enjoy a meal. I get it; time is limited, and even I eat at my desk from time to time. Taking time to eat a meal is a beautiful act of self-care, and it lets your body know that you value it enough to make eating as important as work or sleep. When you eat on the go in a rush, your body is stuck in a ‘fight or flight’ mode, and you won’t digest or enjoy your food as much. Make it fun by eating with your family, roommates, or scheduling a weekly lunch date with coworkers or a friend.
2. Slow down your meal, and chew, chew, chew.
Slowing down your meal will help you focus on all the smells, textures, and flavors in your food. Chew your food well to improve digestion. Slowing down your meal will help you notice when you are no longer hungry or cues of fullness.
3. Feel your fullness.
Most people finish their whole meal before they notice if they’re full or not. They’ve been in the “Clean Plate Club” for life, and it seems uncomfortable to leave food on their plate. Instead, set down your fork every few bites, and connect with your body. Ask yourself if you’re still hungry or not. If you’re done, put away your food, and move on. They’ll always be more food later when you’re hungry again. By honoring your hunger and fullness, you can start to build self-trust around food.
4. Notice what foods you actually like or not.
When I started to eat mindfully, I realized those M & Ms I would grab a handful of when I saw them didn’t actually taste good. I was grabbing them out of habit and because I wanted chocolate. Instead, I’d rather enjoy the best dark chocolate, eat it slowly, and let it melt in my mouth to enjoy it. When you slow down and actually taste your food, you’ll start to figure out what foods you really love. You’ll figure out the foods you’re eating for health reasons or convenience. Then, you can start to make decisions based on the foods that taste great and feel good in your body.
5. Tune into your body after eating.
Start to notice signals from your body after eating your meals. Notice if you feel energized after eating a big salad for example, or if you feel drained and tired after eating sweets. Notice if any foods make you feel bloated or give you headaches. When you are mindful with your meals, you can notice how food makes your individual body feel. It’s different for everyone, and it changes throughout your life! Experiment, and enjoy the process.
6. Find pleasure in food.
Food is meant to be a pleasurable part of life – one of them – so enjoy your aunt’s favorite sweet potato casserole at Thanksgiving, the best dark chocolate, and eat the foods you like. Just find other parts of your life that give you pleasure and fun as well, like your job, relationships, hobbies, traveling, movement, and more. You want to make your life full of joy, so you don’t have to turn to food to find a quick boost of happiness when you’re bored or feeling emotional.
Mindful eating is a powerful practice, but it takes time to develop it – just like you would practice any sport. Choose one tip, and focus your efforts on it this week. Over time, it will become a habit and something you naturally do!
I’d love to hear your thoughts:
- Have you ever heard of mindful eating?
- What is ONE tip you want to work on?
Feel free to ask questions in the comments below – I’ll pop in to answer some!
Lauren Fowler, RDN, LD, CLT
Lauren Fowler is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who helps women ditch the diets, feel good in their bodies, and discover vibrant health. She works with clients with eating disorders, digestive conditions, and women’s health concerns using a real food and intuitive eating approach. She loves exploring farmer’s market, yoga, and running with her boxer pup.