Mindful eating is something that gets brought up a lot in the nutrition community. ‘Eat mindfully’ is often on the list of things to work towards when you’re moving towards food freedom (it’s on this one right here). But mindful eating is such a broad term- and it’s not something that comes natural to most of us, especially those of us who are busy mamas or busy professionals.
But just because it doesn’t come natural, doesn’t mean it can’t be learned- and it truly is one of the most important steps in becoming a truly intuitive eater. So let’s chat four ways to eat more mindfully.
Mindful Eating vs. Intuitive Eating
Before I share the four ways- I do want to clear something up. Mindful eating isn’t the same as Intuitive Eating.
Mindful eating is a PART of intuitive eating. Intuitive Eating encompasses both the how we eat (mindfully) with why we eat (with intuition, tuning in and trusting our bodies over rules) and what we eat (the foods that feel good, for us). All that being said, beginning to eat more mindfully is a great first step towards intuitive eating.
Four Ways to Eat more Mindfully:
1. Ditch distractions
I know, I know- this can be easier said than done for many mamas. But simply creating awareness around reducing distractions can be a powerful step towards more mindful eating. This can include:
Turning off the TV
Putting your phone down
Not eating while working
Sitting at the table and eating with an actual plate and fork
Anything that is taking you away from being fully present with the process of eating is a distraction. It’s ok if there are some distractions (i.e kids)- it’s about reducing them to make way for more presence and connection with your body.
2. Slow down
This is probably the single most hardest- and most beneficial- steps to eating more mindfully. S L O W down. Take a breath before you start shoveling food in your mouth. One bite at a time. Chew and swallow before taking another bite. Yes, you might be in a time crunch- do your best. Pay attention. Slow down. The slower and more intentionally you eat, the easier it becomes to tune in to your body’s signals- of fullness or needing more food.
3. Check in mid-meal
This is another step that becomes easier the more you slow down- but pausing and checking in mid-meal is a great way to deepen that connection with your body’s needs. A few questions can ask:
“How am I feeling?”
“How am I enjoying this meal?”
“It is still satisfying me?”
“Am I beginning to get full?”
“Do I need something else to satisfy me further?”
Sometimes all that happens is you realize you need to slow down a little bit- or that yes, you are becoming full and you can then proceed with eating until your body is satisfied, instead of blowing through your plate of food without even skipping a beat (often unintentionally overeating).
4. Respond to your hunger
This might seem obvious- but how often do we ignore or put off our hunger for ‘more important’ things? Your hunger is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING when it comes up. If you wouldn’t ignore your urge to pee (for long!) you shouldn’t ignore your hunger. Why? It’s a normal, natural biological cue and when we ignore it-- it doesn’t just go away. It becomes stronger and harder to eat just enough to feel satisfied. We are more likely to eat past fullness when we ignore or put off our hunger.
All this being said, know that there is SO much grace in all of this. There is nothing wrong with you if you ignore your hunger, eat past fullness, forget to check in or eat fast- I do all of those things, too, sometimes. The heart of mindfulness is awareness of our habits and slowly working towards a more mindful and gentle experience of nourishing our bodies.
Which aspect of mindful eating feels the easiest for you? The hardest?
Learn how to stress less about food, eat well and live well- without rules holding you back from living your life. My online food freedom course, Uncomplicated Eating, will show you how: