Do you ever find yourself eating a packet of crisps, go to take another one, and realise the packet's empty? Annoying, isn't it?
If you start eating mindfully, this won't happen any more.
Eating mindfully means slowing down and being aware of what you're eating. It means taking time to notice the flavour, the smell and the texture.
For a while, I was working crazy hours at a bar. I finished a 13-hour shift at 5am, then I had to go back at midday for another 12 hours. As you'd expect, I spent my break crashed out in bed. My alarm went off at 11am and I was still exhausted. I remember turning it off but the next thing I knew, I was sitting at the kitchen table eating a bowl of cereal. I had no idea how I got there. I had lost 15 minutes. This was definitely the least mindful I have ever been!
I practise mindful eating, so when I started breakfast it brought me back to the present. This is the aim of living mindfully: pulling yourself back into the present moment at any time.
Still not sold? Mindful eating has heaps of great benefits.
IT STOPS OVEREATING
It's easy to keep dipping into the bowl of popcorn when you're sitting at home watching a movie. It happens! The TV's on. The brain's off. I was sitting on my computer one day and watched my wife head over to the snack cupboard and start rummaging. I was getting hungry myself so asked what she was getting to eat. She stopped and gave me a blank look. She didn't even know she was getting something to eat! It was entirely auto pilot.
IT IMPROVES YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD
If you eat mindfully, you learn to only eat when you're hungry. It might sound silly but it's an important skill! Food has a huge influence on your mind, body and mood, so it's great if you're aware of what you're eating. That way, you're in the driver's seat. You're in control. And you'll feel awesome – that's the cool bit. If you tend to be a fussy eater, it could help you learn to enjoy new foods and experience new things.
Mindful eating is also a great way of understanding what triggers your hunger. For example, I've learned that I tend to eat when I'm bored. Now when I get peckish, instead of grazing, I get myself a glass of water. More often than not, I'm actually thirsty, not hungry, so don't need to eat anything anyway. Two birds with one stone!
You aren't going to see the benefits of mindful eating straight away, but it's worth sticking with, trust me.
I even have some tricks to help you get started!
KEEP A FOOD DIARY
When you write down what you eat from day to day, you have a visual representation of your eating habits. This makes it so much easier to understand how certain foods affect you and highlights the snacks you scoff that you might not even notice otherwise.
Before you start eating, take three deep breaths. Use these seconds to appreciate the food in front of you. A lot of other people have a lot less to eat than you. It's a line used by mothers everywhere, but it's the truth. Be thankful.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Eating a bagel while squished into a bus seat isn't nice for anyone. It's important to take time out for your meals and where you decide to eat has a big impact on the way you feel about food. Set the table for yourself; get a drink; sit and down and enjoy your dinner. You've spent the time preparing it, so it makes sense that you should spend some time enjoying it. Another tip is to remove any distractions from around you while you eat. It works!
THE BIG FOUR
Every time you want something to eat, ask yourself these four questions:
- Am I hungry?
- AM I thirsty?
- When was the last time I ate?
- What was the last thing I ate?
If you had lunch an hour ago, you're probably not hungry now. Try having a glass of water instead. If you still want something to eat after that, then go for it. At the other end of the scale, if you haven't eaten for several hours, then make sure you have something substantial – you probably need it.
Try to think about what you're feeling, since it'll help you settle into a better routine.
Do you have any mindful eating tips? Leave me a comment below letting me know how you enjoy your food.