Ways to practice mindful Eating

Written by Maxine Wright

        After many decades as a practicing Naturopath, Herbalist, Nutritionist and weight loss coach in South East Queensland, Maxine recently sold her clinic and is now enjoying retirement.

January 25, 2019

Mindful eating is about how we eat our food. The goal of mindful eating is to slow down and pay attention to our food so that we can break bad eating habits and encourage healthy practices.

Upon completion of the hCG Diet Australia program most people find they have  a different attitude to food and have broken the sugar/carbohydrates cycle. By practicing mindfulness your conscious eating will improve and you can maintain  the way that you physically and emotionally respond to food, which is why a mindful diet can help with maintaining your new weight set point. For instance, mindful eating can reduce binge eating and overeating. It achieves this by helping you recognise when you’re full and identify when you’re eating in response to emotions, not hunger.

Here are 12 ways you can begin to practice mindfulness for weight loss today.

1. Eat at the table

To combine mindfulness and eating, we need to focus on our food and take our time. Any distractions, such as driving or working make it impossible to be completely mindful. If you typically eat breakfast on the way to work, and eat lunch at your desk, you’re practising mindless eating. Make an effort to sit down and eat every meal at the dinner table.

2. Turn off electronics

The idea behind mindful eating weight loss is to increase your awareness of what you are putting into your body. If you’re doing anything else while you’re eating, then you’re not focused on the food. This can result in you eating more than you meant to, or not feeling satisfied after you eat. Try to turn off the television and put away your cell phone and laptop when you’re eating.

3. Ask yourself if you’re hungry

Before you sit down to eat, it’s important to ask yourself if you’re hungry. There are plenty of reasons people commonly eat that have nothing to do with hunger. So, before you begin to eat, ask yourself if you’re truly hungry, or is it something else. For example:

  • Are you thirsty?
  • Are you bored?
  • Are you upset?

If it’s something other than hunger making you want to eat, try to find another way to satisfy that feeling, such as drinking some water or finding something fun to do.

4. Try yoga, meditation or breath work

Mindfulness is all about being present in the moment and staying “in-tune” with our bodies. Cravings for foods we used to indulge in can be a tough emotion to beat, especially at first. But, meditation and mindful breathing practices can help you work through these emotions.

Though the hCG diet does not require exercise to show results, some dieters find a light yoga or stretching routine helps to focus their intentions and enhance their daily mindfulness. Learning how to stretch, breathe mindfully and be present in your body will help you through challenging times. When you strengthen your mind-body connection, you’ll be more likely to stick with a healthy lifestyle and treat your body with respect! Try practicing mindfulness through the techniques mentioned above just before eating lunch or dinner & see if it makes a difference for you!

5. Make your food appealing

No one wants to pay attention to their food if it seems unappetising. It’s easier to slow down, focus and enjoy your food if it looks appealing. You can make your meals seem more appetising by selecting foods that are a variety of colours or including vibrant vegetables. You can also take care with how you arrange it on your plate to make it more attractive. The plate itself, the table setting, and the location in which you’re eating can also help. For instance, eating from a cafeteria tray in a busy, loud, and ugly lunch room is much less appealing than eating off fine china in a beautifully decorated dining room.  

6. Pause before you begin

If your mind is still focused on the last thing you were doing, or on what you need to get done next, then you won’t be mindful as you begin to eat. A great way to force yourself to focus on the present is to sit down, pause, and take three deep breaths before you begin to eat.

7. Pay attention to your senses

Another method for staying mindful is to focus on all of your senses that are being engaged while you eat. Take notice of how each bite of food smells before you taste it. Then notice how it feels and tastes on your tongue. Pay attention to the different textures within your meal. Ask yourself what sounds you hear as you bite into your food, and focus on the visual appearance of it.

8. Put down your utensils

It’s easy to feel rushed and inhale our food too quickly, without even noticing it. A great way to force yourself to slow down and be mindful is to put your utensils down between each bite of food. Having to put them down and pick them up again forces you to slow down and increases your conscious awareness of each bite.

9. Focus on your hunger signals

It’s important to pay attention to your hunger signals and stop eating just before you feel full. However, as you begin to practice mindful eating, you may realise you’re not very in tune yet with your body’s hunger signals. In this case, may an effort to stop eating every few minutes and ask yourself if you’re still hungry. When you think you may be almost full, or believe you’ve eaten enough that you should be full, stop. If after 10-20 minutes you still feel hungry, then allow yourself to eat a bit more, again being mindful of your body’s signs.

10. Select food you enjoy

If you’re forcing yourself to eat something you don’t like simply because it’s healthy, then it will be more difficult to be mindful and you are less likely to feel full and satisfied. Try to select foods that are both healthy and enjoyable. The more you like what you’re eating, the easier it will be to savour it and focus on eating.

11. Eat slowly

In addition to putting down your utensils, there are two more ways you can slow down your meal and become more mindful of what you’re eating. First, focus on taking small bites. Second, make an effort to thoroughly chew each bite before swallowing, after all chewing is the first stage of the body’s digestive process. Aim to chew anywhere between 20-40 times, depending on the food, and pay attention to the different textures and flavours that you notice as you chew.

12. Understand your food

Making an effort to know what you’re eating can help you appreciate it more and be more conscious of what you’re putting in your body. Try to be aware of the ingredients in your food, where they came from, and how they benefit you. This can help you eat less of foods you know are unhealthy, and eat more of foods that are full of healthy nutrients.

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