Holiday Gift to Yourself: Mindful Eating
By Elizabeth Carruthers, RN MSN CNOR CBN CHHC
Mindful eating is a simple tool in the prevention of unconscious overeating, which may lead to weight regain. The holidays is the perfect time to give yourself the gift of mindful eating.
So…what is mindful eating? It is a mindfulness practice to help you eat with intention and awareness. Sounds easy but how do you practice this especially if this is new for you? Before each meal or snack, there are several questions you should ask yourself to tune your mind in order to assess your hunger levels and raise awareness of your intentions to eat:
- Am I really hungry? Look for physical signs of hunger (i.e. stomach growls) to determine physical vs. mental hunger.
- What do I want and need to eat? When deciding what to eat, take dietary requirements and personal preferences into account.
- Set the mood for a satisfying meal by preparing an enjoyable place to eat (i.e. pretty plates) and minimizing distractions (i.e. turning off cell phone).
- Decide how you want to feel afterwards (i.e. comfortably satisfied instead of Thanksgiving full) and mentally, with intention, choose how much to eat.
- Give thanks for the food on your plate. Think about how the food got there and what your body will do with the nourishment it provides. This brings you into the moment and allows you to focus on the meal.
- Take small bites. Pay attention and observe the textures, flavors, and scents. Thoroughly chew, taste, and savor each mouthful. Put your fork down between bites so you concentrate on the food already in your mouth.
- Pause midway in your meal to reassess your hunger levels. Become aware of your body’s fullness cues (i.e. a large sigh, hiccups). Stop eating when your body says it is satisfied.
- After eating, observe how you feel without judging yourself. Are you comfortably satisfied? Are you uncomfortable from overeating? Use these observations to better plan your eating patterns at your next meal.
Mindful eating becomes easier the more you practice it. You will feel more satisfaction and achieve better health by integrating these simple steps into your lifestyle. Plus, holiday bonus...you may save yourself from putting on unnecessary holiday pounds!