The concept of mindful eating has been around for ages, but as more people embrace their health and wellbeing, the idea of ‘considered consumption’ is on the rise.
So what’s the drill with mindful eating? It means you take care with what, when and how you eat. It helps reduce over-eating, improves your digestion and increases your enjoyment of food.
Keen to give it a go? Here’s how:
1. Firstly, think about how you feel: when you eat, do you eat because you’re hungry, or because you think you should be hungry? Or do you eat because food is nearby (like, the biscuit tin in the office kitchen), and you figure, if you eat a biscuit now, you won’t get hungry later? Think for a moment, and then decide whether or not you really feel like you need some nosh, or if you’re just thirsty
2. Always eat at a table, with cutlery and a plate where possible. Avoid lap dinners in front of the box, try not to eat at your desk, and never stand up to eat a meal!
3. Acknowledge what’s on your plate. Look at the colours and textures. Focus on the aromas and flavour of each mouthful (many experts suggest rolling food around in your mouth before you start to chew – try it with a grape next time you’re near the fruit bowl). Put your fork on your plate between bites, chew slowly, and really savour the experience.
4. Eat until you feel satisfied, but not to the point of bursting. When you start to feel full, put your plate out of reach. Pack up any leftovers for lunch the next day and put your plate in the dishwasher. Which leads us to…
5. Engage ‘The Law of Diminishing Pleasure’. What’s that?, I hear you ask. Dr Rick Kausman, author of If Not Dieting, Then What, suggests trying this technique each time you sit down to eat. Rate each mouthful on a scale of 1 – 10 (with 1 being least pleasurable and 10 being most pleasurable). Most people find that their pleasure levels drop considerably after only a few bites. Consider how enjoyable each mouthful is, and when it starts to decline, stop. If you’re a fan of an afternoon chocolate bar or packet of chips, this is an interesting test to try – I’ve found that I only need around a third of that Crunchie bar, and usually save the remainder for another day.
6. Stop multitasking! No iPads, smartphones, books, computers or TVs when you eat. And guess what? Stop taking bazillions of pictures of your food! Your Twitter followers and Instagram friends don’t need to see every single artfully arranged salad or green smoothie you whizzed up for breakfast.