By Victoria Q
Mindful eating is an act of mindfulness or being present, pay attention to what you put into your body. The goal is to shift focus from external thinking about food to exploring and enjoying the eating experience. It has become popular as a way of self-calming and as a method of changing eating behaviours and developing a new mindset around food.
Here are a few simple tips to help on your journey to a positive relationship with food.
- Target Your Food Triggers
Food triggers are the sights (presentation), sounds (of surroundings), smells (aroma), thoughts (of food) and feelings (happy, sad, bored) we have that make us crave certain foods. Maybe you have a bad day at work and you can’t resist the drive-thru window on your way home or snacking on a whole bag of popcorn while watching Netflix. Whatever our triggers are, they usually end up with us eating for reasons other than physical hunger. By identifying our trigger foods, we can be more aware of our craving.
2. Make Small Goals
Our relationship with food develops over time. Our food likes and dislikes change over time, and we can’t expect to completely change this relationship overnight. Instead, focus on one thing you’d like to change at a time. Maybe you’re going to eat 2 servings of leafy greens each day, have a smoothie for breakfast instead of pancake, prepare your veggies ahead of time so you won’t have any excuses not to eat veggies, or step away from your desk while you eat. It’s great to be motivated, but research shows that sticking to small, simple, doable goals is more effective for making binger changes in our lives.
3. Accept Your Eating Habits
Learning to eat mindfully doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, patience and lots of practice. You will likely begin to notice that many sides of your life are affected by food: friends or families gatherings, celebrations or study break rewards. Keeping a food journal is important to know what’s your food habits and where to make changes. Do not feel shame or guilt over eating certain foods. Remember that there is no ‘perfect’ way to eat. Instead of trying to control what you eat, be in charge of how you eat. As you become more present while you eat, your food choices may begin to change.
4. Celebrate Your Relationship With Food
Make sure you sit down and eat at the table (some people eat on couches, sofas, floor etc), and take the time to prepare a plate with an attractive presentation (we eat first with our eyes). Be grateful, remember that not everyone has enough to eat, or can choose what they eat. Try to eat with friends and family more often, enjoying good food and good conversation. Remember that food is part of our culture and it can nourish us, body, mind and soul.