Being more mindful is about bringing the mind and body together in the present moment. Therefore, mindful eating encourages us to have a greater awareness of our eating experiences overall.
While dieting tends to focus on rules and restrictions, mindful eating is about creating healthy eating habits and connecting with your food. When you eat mindfully, you’re less likely to overeat and more likely to make healthy food choices.
Eating mindfully may sound unrealistic with today’s hectic, on-the-go lifestyle, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are six simple ways to practice mindful eating, form a stronger connection with your food, and bring a sense of gratitude to every meal.
Know Where Your Food Comes From
The best place to start with mindful eating is to learn where your food comes from. Knowing how and where your food was grown, harvested, processed, and brought to market helps you form a stronger connection with your food.
Try to get away from purchasing food that was grown on industrialized farms and shipped across the country (or globe) to your local supermarket. This type of farming requires the use of tons of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. And transporting food over long distances is a major contributor to air pollution and global warming. In short, it’s not good for you or the planet.
Instead, shop at your neighborhood farmer’s markets and local farm stands. Make a conscious effort to buy organic, locally grown whole foods. Support forward-thinking farmers who use agriculture AI technology and hydroponics to grow food using fewer natural resources and chemicals.
And, make a habit of preparing your meals and snacks at home. Knowing where your food comes from and cooking it yourself is the only way to really know what you’re putting into your body.
With just a bit more mindfulness, you’ll be more grateful for all the work that went into your meal. You’ll also make wiser choices about the health of your food, not just for yourself and your family, but also for the entire planet.
Stop Multitasking While You Eat
Most of us eat in front of the television or with a cell phone in one hand more often than not. Multitasking while you eat is distracted eating, and that means you’re not appreciating your food or listening to your body’s signals about when it’s full.
Instead, try eating without distractions. Simply enjoy your food and the company of your eating companion. By “single-tasking” instead of multi-tasking, eating becomes a mindful ritual instead of a distracted habit.
Give Your Body and Your Brain a Chance to Get on the Same Page
We often eat so fast that our brain doesn’t have a chance to register the body’s signal that we’re full. Eating mindfully means slowing down so that your body can tell your brain when it’s had enough.
Slowing down is one of the best ways to get the mind and body in tune with each other when we’re eating. In fact, it takes the brain up to 20 minutes to register the body’s satiation signal, which is why we often feel overstuffed after meals. Eating slowly gives your body and brain a chance to get on the same page.
Sit down at the table while you eat. Chew each bite carefully. Set your fork down in between each bite. Really taste and enjoy what you’re eating All of those manners your grandma taught you aren’t so pointless after all!
Learn Your Body’s Hunger Signals
Many times, we listen to our brain first, but when it comes to mindful eating, it’s better to listen to your body instead. The brain often signals hunger due to an emotional response, like boredom, loneliness, frustration, sadness, or stress.
But your body signals hunger when it truly needs nourishment. You might feel a little lightheaded, low in energy, or your stomach might be growling.
Before you eat, ask yourself if you are responding to an emotional signal from your brain or fulfilling your body’s needs.
Cultivate a Minimalist, Mindful Kitchen
Minimalism and mindful eating go hand in hand. Cultivating a minimalist, mindful kitchen means keeping your eating space organized and getting rid of unnecessary clutter. This encourages mindful eating and healthy eating rituals, such as gathering with your family at mealtimes.
Do you find yourself wandering your kitchen looking through the cabinets and fridge for something to eat? How about eating alone at random times and in random places? This creates unhealthy eating habits that trigger you to eat when you’re not really hungry.
When you put groceries away, make sure healthy foods are easy to get to and the first things you see when you open the pantry and fridge. You’re most likely to eat what’s easily accessible and right in front of you.
Plan Your Meals and Snacks
Try planning your meals and snacks and eating with others at set times and places to help you be more mindful about your food. Not only does this get you to slow down, but it also helps you develop healthy environmental cues about what, when, where, and how much to eat.
Eating with others is also helpful because it gets you to slow down, enjoy the act of eating, and share conversation. It causes you to take cues from your eating companion, rather than simply eating mindlessly when you’re bored or stressed.
Cut Yourself Some Slack
But, that’s not to say that you have to plan every single meal and snack all the time. Sometimes it’s okay to cut yourself some slack and be flexible if that’s really what you need in the moment, such as when it’s something you truly love or on a special occasion.
The key is to be aware that you’re making a temporary change in your eating habits. Don’t feel guilty about it because that can lead to binge eating and cravings that can be hard to overcome. Simply enjoy the moment and then return to your normal healthy eating habits the next time you eat.
Wrapping Things Up
Mindful eating doesn’t need to be complicated or restrictive. We can strengthen the connection between the mind and body when we eat simply by slowing down, listening to the body’s signals, doing one thing at a time, and turning mealtime into a ritual, rather than a distracted necessity.
Simply knowing where your food comes from and acknowledging the effort that went into growing, harvesting, and preparing it brings more mindfulness and gratitude to every meal.
Nicole is a content creator who has been obsessed with beauty and fashion since she was a young girl. She’s a former wedding makeup artist who still loves spending her free time testing products and staying up to date on new fashion trends. On top of that, she’s a self-proclaimed health nut who loves to explore and write on holistic, healthy living. While Nicole’s days are now spent contributing to women’s lifestyle sites from home while raising her kids, she can still always be found putting looks together, even if it’s just for a trip to the grocery store!