7 Steps for More Mindful Eating

We have all engaged in mindless eating. This often occurs when we are not really hungry. We just grab something as we pass, snack on something while working, eat while watching TV or a movie.

We eat because there are signals around us that tell us to eat. It is not in our nature or upbringing to pause after every bite and contemplate whether or not we are full. Unknowingly, as we eat we look for signals and cues that we’ve had enough.

Long term weight loss is more achievable when we engage in mindful eating.

Mindful eating involves paying deliberate, curious attention to the experience of eating. You practice noticing everything about your food, the shape, the colour, the texture, the smell. How these change as you chew your food 20 times. You can even observe it as it leaves your mouth and travels down to your stomach. Notice how any body signals of hunger change or abate with each mouthful.

7 Steps to to help you eat mindfully:

1) Eat away from any distractions such as TV

2) Scan your body and observe what hunger feels like, where you experience these feelings. Try and describe them to yourself.

3) Observe your plate of food, the different items, the colours, smell, and shapes of the food.

4) Notice as you take the first mouthful, the way it feels in your mouth, the texture, the crunch etc. Observe how this changes as you chew it and how the taste changes as you complete the 20 chews.

5) Listen out for feelings of satiety. How does your body let you know it has had enough? If you are not sure, focus on how your feelings have changed as you were eating. For some people the time to stop is when the hunger has gone. The feeling of satiety still takes another 20 minutes to ‘arrive.’

6) Become aware of your beliefs and head talk, particularly once you have had enough. What are you telling yourself about your portion size? Any remaining food on the plate? About what others at the table may have eaten, or the portion size they consumed? Our brains are rarely silent and your self talk can be your best friend or worst enemy.

7) It is hard to remain mindful, so be kind to yourself if you find you are eating mindlessly part way through a meal. Refocus. Try putting your cutlery down between mouthfuls, swapping your cutlery to your non dominant hand - you will have to focus to get anything into your mouth! Use chop sticks. Things that break ‘automatic pilot’ should help you come back to the moment.

Remember - it takes more than 21 days to break a habit and set up new patterns of behaviour. So, keep trying. Practice your mindful eating, focusing on the colour, texture, feel of it in you mouth and the way this changes over the 20 chew. Eat slowly, savour and enjoy. Listen to your body and stop when the hunger goes. This is your body telling you that it has had enough.