Mindful Eating has a wide variety of techniques that you can use with the single goal of bringing your awareness to the present moment whenever you eat. I believe that the best way to think about mindful eating is to look at it in three different phases. Those phases are what you do before you eat, what you do while you eat, and what you do after you eat. There is a unique objective in each of these phases that help with the goal of eating mindfully. In this post, we will define the objective of each phase and walk you through what to do to get you to eat mindfully.
In the before you eat phase your goal is to become clear on why you are eating.
One of the benefits of mindful eating is to negate the issues of mindless eating but it can also help with issues such as emotional eating and binge eating. All these issues originate because you eat for a reason other than hunger.
To find out why you are eating in the moment you have to become aware of the thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations that you are experiencing.
Each meal will be a completely different experience so always take the time to become mindful before you start eating. Get in the habit of practicing a mindful routine before you eat so you always remember to be mindful. A mindful routine will help you stay consistent no matter what you are eating.
One thing you should always consider before you start eating is your hunger level. You can get sudden urges of hunger that turn out to actually be cravings or thirstiness. Real hunger is not a sudden urge that you feel. Real hunger is always there and does not go away as time passes by. You will misjudge what your hunger levels truly are if you confuse the urge you feel with your real hunger.
Knowing what your hunger is also lets you know how much food that you need to eat until you feel satisfied. When you have a good idea of how much you need to eat you will be less likely to overeat or eat too little.
Once you've identified how hungry you are you can find the reason why you want to eat. Sometimes you will want to eat because you are hungry but other times you will want to eat when you are not hungry.
You could want to eat because of boredom, cravings, stress, or because of a social gathering. Be sure to identify the reasons why.
Always make sure to treat the reason why you eat nonjudgmentally. Deciding to eat is not a good or a bad decision. Just the fact that you are aware of the reason why you are eating will give you much more confidence in the eating decisions that you do make.
Being mindful while you eat is about slowing down so you become better aware of the feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations that you experience.
The key to this phase of mindful eating is understanding that what you feel will change based on what you eat. If you are not aware in the present moment then you will not notice the moments when how you feel about the food changes.
Some people think of mindful eating to mean that you need to stay 100% focus on nothing but the food that you are eating without any distractions. That is simply not the case. Your thoughts and attention will always wander to different things but all you need to do is check in with yourself every once in a while.
Checking in gives you to moment to notice when things change. Taking a small moment to check in could be the difference between you eating just enough food and feeling good or overeating and feeling stuffed.
The mindful eating techniques that happen in this phase have a common theme: to help you slow down and pay attention to what you are experiencing. Here are some examples of those techniques:
These techniques will let you slow down and remind you to take the time to check in with the feelings that you have in the moment. It takes time for your body to change how it is feeling when you start to eat something. The end goal is to be aware of how your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations change while you are eating.
The main objective of the after you eat mindful eating phase is to practice self-reflection.
Self-reflection gives you the chance to look back on what you have done and decide if anything needs to change.
If you want to make a change in your life or commit to personal growth then self-reflection is a necessary part of the process. Without self-reflection, we would repeat the same behaviors over and over again.
Very often we jump right into the next activity without thinking about what we just ate. We don't think about whether that food makes us feel good or whether eating actually satisfied our hunger.
One of the first thing people realize when they start to self reflect is just how much food that they eat that they actually don't enjoy eating. Some foods can make you feel bad right after eating but because you never take the time to notice it you will continue to eat that food.
That is why self-reflection is important. It helps us to make changes in our lives that lead to happier and healthier lives.
After you are done eating one of the first things you should be aware of is how hungry you are after eating. Checking in to see what your hunger is lets you know whether or not you have eaten too much or too little.
Usually, people think the goal of eating is to eat until you are full. Being full can make you feel sluggish or tired. What you should be aiming to do is eat until you are satisfied. Being satisfied means that you can go for a long time without feeling the need to eat.
With self-reflection, you can fine-tune your feelings to find the point where being satisfied is.
After finding what your hunger is you should check how you feel after eating. Sometimes when we eat we feel great and sometimes we can feel negative emotions. Self-reflection helps you to confront those feelings that you have so you can make sure that you feel great after every meal that you have.
When you put it all together mindful eating can be broken down into three simple steps. Know why you are eating so you are aware that you are eating for the right reasons. Be aware of how your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations change as eat. After eating take the time to reflect to see if anything should change to make your experience better.