Not only can mindfulness help reduce stress and improve mood, but it can also help you become more aware of your eating habits and food intake. There are many ways you can incorporate mindfulness techniques into your everyday routine to help you become more aware of your eating behaviors. Mindful eating can also be a helpful tool in managing your weight loss or weight maintenance goals.
Simply put, mindfulness is moment-to-moment awareness. It is cultivated by purposefully paying attention to things we ordinarily do on auto pilot. It is a systematic approach to our own inner capacities for relaxation, paying attention, awareness, and insight. These capacities not only help us change our behavior and habits, but can significantly enhance our quality of life.
Mindful eating begins with learning how to listen and react to your body. Are you actually hungry or are you craving that cookie because you’re bored? Taking a more mindful approach to eating means tuning in to your body’s cues so you know when to start and stop eating by listening to your body.
Next time you sit down for a meal, use these 5 steps recommended by Dr. Susan Albers to guide your mindful approach to eating.
- Aware. Being aware of your food means noting the flavor present in each bite. When you are aware, you are fully noticing the qualities of each food rather than mindlessly chewing.
- Savor. Savoring food means paying attention to the unique details of each food. Notice the texture, aroma, and flavor. Is it sweet, crunchy, or spicy?
- Observe. Notice the different between when you are truly hungry and when you are craving food out of boredom or stress. Listen to your body’s cues. Is your stomach growling? Do you feel low energy? Or perhaps you are feeling full and become aware that it’s time to stop eating.
- In the moment. Being in the moment means taking the time to sit down and eat without any distractions. No TV, no cell phone….just enjoying your meal.
- Nonjudgement. Allow feelings (good or bad) to come into your mind and pass peacefully. Try not to focus on rigid rules or let guilt weight you down. For example, if you are feeling stressed and craving a cookie, acknowledge that you are stressed and that it’s ok to feel stressed.