Eating delicious, healthy food is one of life’s joys. But how do you know when food becomes excessive and you lose track of how much you’re eating?
It’s helpful to recognize when you’ve satisfied your nutritional needs, enjoyed your meal, and are feeling full. This may be challenging if you rush through your meal without being aware of how much you’re eating. You may also find that you turn to unhealthy food when you feel emotionally distressed.
In these cases, it’s easy to over-eat, and weight gain is inevitable. So let me help you learn mindful eating strategies. I want you to be aware of situations that lead to eating unhealthy food or simply eating too much.
The first step is to learn to be aware of what you’re eating and whether it’s appropriate to satisfy your real hunger. If not, ask yourself why you’ve eaten too much. Simply asking yourself this question will lead you to become more self-aware of the role food plays in your life.
Learn to recognize what causes you to over-eat. We’re all different, so pay attention to what your personal triggers are.
Temptations are found around every corner. We’re bombarded by ads from the food industry whose goal is to make a profit—not to make us healthier. And many people turn to food for relief of emotional distress. Stress, anxiety, depression, and boredom are all common triggers. However, remind yourself that you’re in control.
5 Steps to Mindful Eating
Being mindful with food means slowing down and taking control of what you put in your body. Try these steps to find a new relationship with food.
1. Slow Down
Sit quietly, chew your food slowly, and savor each bite. Get in touch with the flavors and textures of the food you’re eating. Don’t rush through your meal. Take time to enjoy it.
When you sit down to eat, clear away any distractions like the TV, computer, or your phone. This way, you can focus on your food and enjoy it more.
2. Learn the True Feelings of Hunger and Fullness
Make it a habit to eat only when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. If you slow down while eating, you’ll allow yourself to recognize when you’re full and respond to the signals your body it telling you to stop eating. You may find that you truly need a lot less food than you thought.
Be mindful of the sensations of hunger and fullness. What sensations do you notice that are communicating to you that you’ve had enough food?
3. Don’t Soothe Emotions with Food
Find ways to soothe your emotions without turning to food. For example, if you find that you eat to relieve stress, you can find a different strategy to address that feeling. In this case, taking a walk, getting a massage, or taking a bubble bath will ultimately be more effective at relieving your stress.
Do you find yourself turning to food for comfort? In what other ways can you find comfort without turning to food?
4. Discover How to Say “No”
Get comfortable with saying “no thank you” when someone offers you unhealthy food. You’re not obligated to eat food that someone offers you. Be mindful of your own needs, then stand up for yourself and stick to your healthy diet.
When can you use the power of the word “no?”
5. Get Proactive
Be proactive with your meal planning. Begin by designing a menu of healthy food, making a shopping list, then committing to your plan. If you’ve planned a menu and have healthy food on hand, it will help you stay on track.
Claiming ownership of your wellness is what being mindful is all about. What steps do you feel you need to take today?