When it comes to dieting, many people develop an adversarial relationship with food. Dieting often becomes about what you can or can’t eat … with all our favorite (junk and comfort) foods ending up on the chopping block. However, while watching what you eat is certainly important, more experts are pointing to HOW you eat as an important tool toward better eating. It’s called mindful eating, and it’s helping people rethink and shift their relationship to food.
Registered dietitian, Jenni Grover, describes mindful eating as “intuitive eating… a concept with its roots in Buddhist teachings, [which] aims to reconnect us more deeply with the experience of eating — and enjoying — our food.” No, you don’t have to be a Buddhist monk or meditate every day to be a mindful eater. Mindful eating is based on the idea that there is no right or wrong way to eat, but rather varying degrees of consciousness about what we are eating and why. The goal of mindful eating, then, is to base our meals on physical cues, such as our bodies’ hunger signals, not emotional ones — like eating for comfort. According to a recent article in the New York Times, mindful eating is not a diet, or about giving anything up. Rather, it’s about experiencing food more intensely — especially the pleasure of it.
Part of the reasoning behind mindful eating when it comes to health and weight loss is that it combats mindless or unconscious eating. Research shows that mindless eating plays a significant role in weight gain because we do not recognize when we’re actually full, causing overeating. However, when we eat mindfully, not only can we better experience the pleasure of the food we eat, we build more awareness around how much food we need to eat, as well as create opportunities to make healthier choices around food selection.
Thinking about trying it? Consider these 9 tips to start you off in exploring the concept of mindful eating, which are intended to help you slow down and pay attention to your meal:
1. Chew 25 times
2. Feed yourself with your non-dominant hand
3. Eat everything with chopsticks for a week
4. Put your fork down between each bite
5. Take your first bite with your eyes closed
6. Try to identify every ingredient in your meal
7. Put your food on a plate
8. Sit at a table
9. Eat in Silence
For a little more in-depth resource about mindful eating and how it can benefit your weight loss goals, check out this fun Infographic from the Summer Tomato blog, all about the benefits of eating mindfully.