Why You Should Practice Mindful Eating
While calorie counting can definitely help you stay on track and increase your nutritional awareness, there can be a lot of anxiety associated with it. It’s hard to relax around food when you’re constantly reviewing nutrition labels and planning out each and every bite.
Food is great - for many reasons. It can be enjoyed with friends, experienced as part of a cuisine, and prepared with so many ingredients that you can be creative and always try something new. We shouldn’t define food by a number - we should actually enjoy and experience it. We should be eating more mindfully.
Mindful eating is about indulgence rather than restriction. It’s about eating slowly and savoring each and every bite. It’s about being fully conscious of the food that you’re eating as you tune into your body. We’re always turning to different sources to tell us what or how we should be eating, but who better to listen to than our own bodies?
There are many benefits of mindful eating that can have a powerful impact on our mental, emotional, and physical health. When you eat mindfully you develop a more positive relationship with food. You give yourself the freedom to make your own choices and opt for healthier foods and habits that will fuel your body. You view food as something that nourishes your body and you develop a better body image. Keep reading to discover some of our insights and find out how!
Benefits That You Might Experience
You’ll Feel More Relaxed
When you tune into your body and focus entirely on your plate, you’ll be more focused on the present. This can be a great way to de-stress and clear your mind as you practice greater self-awareness. You’re also getting rid of the constant stress that comes from tracking your food, and you don’t have to worry about what to do when you’re invited out for dinner and the menu doesn’t show nutritional values.
It’ll Be Easier to Maintain a Healthy Weight
When you’re fully tuned into your body it’s much easier to hear the signals that it’s sending out. You’ll know when you’re full and when you’ve had enough to eat. This can be a great way to prevent overeating and maintain a healthy weight as it gives you time to stop and consider “do I really need this or am I already satisfied?”
You’ll Question Your Food Choices More
Just like it gives you time to stop and consider whether you need that extra serving, mindful eating also gives you the chance to question what you’re eating. “Will this food fuel and nourish my body? Will it make my body feel good?"
We often use food to distract ourselves from our emotions, which can lead to unhealthy eating patterns. When you eat mindfully it won’t be as tempting to make choices that you might regret later on. And even if you do opt for foods that aren’t as healthy (it’s totally fine to treat yourself in moderation), you’ll know whether you actually satisfied a craving or whether you were trying to distract yourself from feeling sad or bored. You’ll give yourself the freedom to eat whatever you want, which makes it easier to eat healthier when it you know that it’s a personal choice you’re making.
It Can Help With Eating Disorders
Mindful eating can really help with eating disorders such as binge eating, which develops from an overly restrictive diet and a negative relationship with food. You’re limiting your choices so you don’t allow yourself to eat a lot of things. You feel restricted, which makes you want to overindulge.
With mindful eating, you view food from the perspective of indulgence. You develop more of a “can” mindset where you give yourself the permission to eat and enjoy your food. You don’t deprive yourself of options - you tune into your body to see what it needs and what kinds of signals it’s sending out.
Live a Healthier Lifestyle
It’s not about following a diet or restricting yourself. And it’s not about being perfect! Mindful eating is a practice that turns into a way of living, and it’s much easier to follow than sticking to a diet. Your mindset starts to change as you develop a more positive relationship with food, with your body, and even with life.
Tips to Practice Mindful Eating
Get Rid of Distractions
It can be really hard to practice mindful eating when you’re sitting in front of the TV or while doing work. When we’re focused on something external we lose focus of our bodies. This can make it really hard to realize when we’re full and lead to overeating. If possible, try to eat in silence in an environment where you can focus entirely on your plate.
Observe Your Food
Before you begin eating, take a couple of minutes to observe your plate. Look at the different colors, take in the smell, really taste the flavors as you eat. Practice this for a couple weeks and see how your relationship with food starts to change.
Take Your Time
It can be really hard to be mindful when you’re eating as fast as you can. Slow down! Sit down. Take your time to chew your bites and savor the taste. Schedule times for eating where you can relax and do just that - eat.
Yoga is all about tuning into your body and greater higher self-awareness. It is a very mindful practice that helps us become more aware of our emotions and sensations. The more you practice, the more conscious of your body and food you’ll become. You’ll pay more attention when eating, you’ll feel when you’re full, and you will know when you’ve had enough to eat. Download the #SweatCity app here to check out our top picks and discover the best local yoga studios near you.
Eat With Friends or Family
When we eat with friends or family we usually engage in conversation and eat slowly, taking our time to eat about food. There’s no rush. Eating becomes more of a social, bonding experience when you share it with others. Whether it’s for a holiday, a celebration, or just a night out with friends, it can and should be fun! And those experiences can be so much more enjoyable when you’re not constantly worrying about the calories that you’re eating. Try planning a group dinner once a week, where everyone cooks something healthy and brings it to the table. This can be a fun way to enjoy eating and experiment with different foods!
Find Some Healthy Restaurants
Touching upon our last point, it can be fun to experiment with different foods and share meals with others. Try looking up some healthy restaurants that you and your friends can check out. It can be really fun to get creative and try out different cuisines. Download the #SweatCity app to find healthy and delicious restaurants near you.