Mindful eating is a concept that goes beyond what foods we eat and considers the why and how of our eating experience. It helps us to be present in the moment and have an increased awareness of our eating behaviour. When we slow down and pay attention to what we are doing, we can better enjoy the entire experience. We may find we actually taste our food, savour the flavours, and are more attuned to our body’s hunger and satiety cues. Mindful eating can also help us avoid extreme hunger or overeating. This practice can be beneficial for anyone, including those who have undergone bariatric surgery.
When we increase our awareness of our eating behaviours, we may also reflect on areas of improvement. We may realize how foods make us feel (eg. satisfied or still hungry) and we can adjust our future meals. We can also learn about the reasons why we eat – are we eating because we are hungry, because we are bored, or because we are stressed? The different reasons why we eat can sometimes be referred to as stomach, head and heart hunger.
There is no reason to feel bad or ashamed of what we learn from reflecting; part of mindfulness is being present and aware in the moment, in a non-judgmental way. We can use it to help us make changes going forward. Remember to start from a place of self-compassion and love.
Here are a few tips to start incorporating more mindful eating into your routine:
- Think about why you are eating – hunger, emotions, taste. Ask yourself, Am I hungry?
- Use the hunger scale to help you decide when to eat and when to stop eating. **
- Take 20-30 minutes to eat your meals.
- Consider other activities you can do instead when you want to eat for emotional reasons.
- Savour the taste of your food. Decide on a portion and enjoy the experience.
- Don’t skip meals; eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.
- Avoid going longer than 4 hours without eating.
- Order half portions at restaurants or use a take-away container.
- Stay hydrated.
- Avoid distractions when eating.