Cooking and Dining
How to Become a More Mindful Eater
Being a mindful eater takes a different type of discipline than healthy eating. When you’re hungry the last thing you want to do is think deeply about what you’re eating. Often we only think about it after we eat, when guilt to strikes us. If this is happening to you everyday or every time you eat, perhaps you need to start being mindful of your food decisions and become a mindful eater. It doesn’t mean you’re going to have to prevent yourself from eating of all the foods you like. Becoming a mindful eater only means that you’re being mindful of the food you eat so that you can prevent going down the road of poor eating habits. There are ways to lead yourself on a track to being a mindful eater, and it is all in a change of habits and commitment.
Know What You like to Eat and if it’s Good for You
Ask yourself these questions. What do you like to eat that makes you feel good? And what do you like to eat that makes you feel good but is not that healthy? Posing yourself these questions will help you determine the foods to be mindful of when you’re hungry or prepping a meal. For starters, make a list of these foods and how you feel after eating them. Now think of how often you eat it and when. Mindful eating is not like healthy eating — moreso because you’re not depriving yourself of food you like. But with mindful eating, you’ll know to eat pasta less because it’s not good for you to eat it daily. You’re minding how you consume food, which leads to my next point.
Mind your Portions, Eat to Satiate
Portions nowadays are big, and this is why we eat more than people did 50 years ago. Think of this when you’re eating. Often, you can find yourself eating long after your appetite is satisfied.
For instance if I eat tacos for lunch I don’t feel guilty about it, but I also keep in mind I don’t need to eat three to feel “full,” when two tacos can satisfy. But when I eat a pasta bowl (which is quite large portion), I kinda feel like I eat enough pasta for a month. So, I try not to eat a pasta bowl often when I’m out, or if I do, I only eat half and save the rest for later. Just because the portion is big does not mean you should eat everything. Feeling satiated and full are not the same. You should be able to drink water after a meal, so if you can’t maybe you’re too full.
Hungry or Bored?
This is one of the first signs of being mindful when you eat: you’re sitting down watching TV and suddenly you’re thinking of eating — listen to your body. You’re probably not hungry at all. Just think of when the last time you ate was. If it’s been more than say four hours since you last ate, then yeah maybe you are hungry. But if it’s been a shorter period than that, it’s likely just boredom in your mind leading you to to believe you’re hungry. And often boredom eating is mostly snacks — snacks that are sugary and fatty. So if you’re cleaning, being lazy around the house, or find yourself at the fridge, take a step back and remember if you really need to be eating. Because truly, you should only eat if you’re hungry.
Being a Mindful Eater With Your Plate in Front of You
You’ve cooked some food and now you’re adding it to your plate. The mindset of a mindful eater is checking to make sure you have nutritional and beneficial food on your plate. Do you have leafy greens? Or more meat than greens? These are a few things to think about when you’re setting up your plate. Additionally, the color of your plate can make a difference. Researchers say that the closer the color of the food is to the plate color, the more food will likely get put on that plate. Think of eating brown rice on a brown plate compared to a white plate. Apparently you’ll likely put more rice on the browner plate. Also, consider how much food is on your plate. You know how you used to go to a buffet and fill your plate with a little bit of everything?
Take your time
We all chew to eat. But are you chewing slowly, and chewing your food enough? Mindful eaters chew their food until it is completely broken down. So if you find yourself chewing for only a few seconds and swallowing, you’re not being mindful at all. You’re also not allowing your body to digest the food.
But here’s a challenge — while you’re chewing food, before you think of swallowing it, reassess it while it’s still in your mouth. Don’t worry, it’s not gross and nobody will know. Just use your tongue to do this and ask, is the food you’re about to swallow liquefied or can you chew it some more? And don’t forget to do it slowly. Eating slowly allows you to savor the food, actually enjoy it, and not overeat. And if you fear overeating, don’t forget to take pauses in between. You absolutely do not have to lift a utensil to your face every minute while eating. Take 2-3 minutes not chewing and see if you want to keep eating. If your fork of spaghetti is in your face every minute, before you know it, you’ll eat the entire thing when you probably didn’t need to.
Skipping Meals and Water Intake
The key to not overeating is not skipping a meal (even though a lot of us skip breakfast). Skipping a meal will make you overeat later on, because you’ll overcompensate for the meal you missed. So eat when you have to and drink water too. Drinking water before your meal will keep you hydrated and aid you in eating less. And if you want to start a weight loss journey, this is one of the first steps one should take — drinking water before every meal. It’s healthy and helps your body digest everything better.
These are some of the many ways to be a mindful eater, but there are definitely more. What are some other ways one can be mindful when eating?