Do you over-eat or binge-eat?
Do you eat in response to boredom, anger, anxiety or stress? Are you always on the diet merry-go-round?
Then you may like to try Mindful Eating. Mindful Eating allows you to enjoy a healthy satisfying relationship with food. It involves tuning into your inner world, connecting to the present moment and following your intuition when it comes to eating. Often times we are eating without any real connection to our food, or what our bodies need. Mindful eating helps you identify when you are hungry physically or when that inner emptiness is more of an emotional hunger. You become aware of what real hunger feels like, as well as what it feels like to be satisfied with your food.
Mindful eating is not a diet, there are no forbidden foods or calorie counting. It involves noticing all the colours, textures, sounds, tastes and smells of your food, as well as the effect of your food on your body. The intention of mindful eating is to take care of yourself and pay attention to the way your body responds. It’s a way of eating, rather than focusing on what you eat.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Have what you really really want
When eating, ask yourself, what do you really want to eat? Are you hungry or thirsty? What kind of food or drink do you want? Then let yourself have exactly what you want. You will feel satisfied when you take the time to work out what you really feel like eating, as well as giving yourself permission to really enjoy it in a relaxed enjoyable atmosphere.
- Set the scene
Set a nice place to eat and arrange the food nicely on the plate. Eliminate distractions by turning off the TV and putting down your phone. If you are out or at work, don’t eat on the run. Sit down, savour and enjoy your food.
- Savour and slow down
Try to eat slowly, paying attention to the smell, taste, sound, texture and look of the food. Close your eyes for a few seconds and be aware of what you notice about your food and the eating experience. Notice any thoughts or emotions that come up for you while eating. Sometimes we eat so quickly that we miss all this other information so get curious about your own internal reactions.
- Rate the experience
Rate the pleasure you get from the first few bites of food on a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being the least pleasurable and 10 being the most). Then stop halfway through eating the food and rate it again. Finally, rate the food when you’re down to the last bite. You’re likely to find that the numbers diminish along with the food.
- Feel Your Fullness
Take a time-out in during the middle of your meal to check how full you are. This time-out is a commitment to check-in with your body and your taste buds and decide whether your meal is hitting the mark. It doesn’t mean you need to stop eating at all. Is the meal worthy of your taste buds, or are you continuing to eat out of habit, just because it’s there? Are you feeling satisfied or full, what level are you at in terms of being satisfied and full?
Mindful eating is about nourishing all of you, body, mind and soul. Before you reach for any food, sit down, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and let yourself be empty of expectations. With a quiet, relaxed mind, ask your body what it hungers for, and ask it to be specific. Allow yourself to connect to the body’s intuitive wisdom, the part of you that naturally knows which food or experience would best nourish you. You may discover answers way beyond what you need to have for breakfast that day. Enjoy the discoveries!
As an Eating Psychology Coach, Amanda supports her clients to develop body wisdom and confidence through mindfulness and self-compassion. She works with her clients to understand their own negative beliefs and self-sabotage. With her guidance, her clients develop the skills, knowledge and awareness to love themselves and their bodies everyday.
Amanda is also a Body Image Movement Global Ambassador, raising awareness of the dangers of dieting and the “thin is in” ideal. As an ambassador, Amanda celebrates body diversity, and positive body image.