Mindful eating comes from the Buddhist philosophy of mindfulness. Mindful eating is a technique that helps us get control over our eating habits.Studies have shown that it is efficient to regulate eating disorders, lose weight and reduce binge eating (i.e. emptying the fridge AND the cookie jar). Here are 8 principles to help you practice mindful eating.
Principle 1 – Eat slowly and without distraction
Do not eat while watching TV or working on the computer. Also, do not try to achieve a new record of the highest number of chips eaten within a minute. Take your time. 🙂
Principle 2 – Listen to physical hunger cues and eat only until you are full
Do not force yourself to eat if you are not hungry. And if it may be tempting to indulge with another slide of apple pie, ask yourself first whether you are still hungry. Let me guess: NO, you are not hungry anymore, it is just a bit of gluttony. 😉
Principle 3 – Distinguish between true hunger and non-hunger triggers for eating
Hunger triggers are sent from your stomach, not by the chocolate bars in the vending machine.
Principle 4 – Engage your senses by noticing colors, smells, sounds, textures and flavors
Eating is not only a tasting experience. It is an incredible sensory experience, especially when the tasty dishes are homemade.
Principle 5 – Learn to cope with guilt and anxiety about food
It is ok to indulge in a slice of cake or a chocolate bar from time to time. However, when you get completely out of control with food, learn the lessons from it (e.g. perhaps stop having a large quantity of chocolate at home?) and move on.
Principle 6 – Eat to maintain overall health and well-being
Look at the ingredients of the dishes you eat and imagine the impact they have on your body. Then, choose the most healthy ingredients and dishes that you really enjoy eating.
Principle 7 – Notice the effects food has on your feelings and figure
Identify ingredients and dishes that are beneficial for your health, and the ones that cause stomach pain. You can also identify the dishes that make you happy and those that make you feel heavy or that you do not enjoy eating at all. Note: Brussel sprouts can be tasty, let’s just not eat them at the canteen.
Principle 8 – Appreciate your food
Eating should be an enjoyable experience. Hence, healthy eating does not mean getting deprived or forced to eat what we do not like. If you do not know how to cook vegetables to make them taste good, take a cooking class and cook the same tasty dishes at home.
The 8 above principles are useful to replace automatic thoughts and behaviors (e.g. eating a processed cookie) with more conscious and healthy ones (e.g. a homemade cookie, berries, etc.).