Are You a Mindful Eater?January, 2022
Healthy eating is about more than the foods you eat, being mindful is an important part too. ‘Mindful eating’ is a shift from thinking about what we eat to how we eat, in a way that is flexible and positive. This shift in thinking can help you develop healthy behaviours and a positive attitude toward food, setting you up for long-term success.
It can also help you understand the many reasons why you may be eating: like hunger, habit, emotions (e.g. happiness, sadness) or boredom. Once you understand why you’re eating you may feel more control over your food choices. It becomes easier to tune into hunger cues and choose foods that are nutritious and satisfying.
Canada’s Food Guide encourages us to be mindful of our eating habits. Get started by thinking about the following:
Why you are eating – Consider whether you are eating because you are hungry or for another reason.
How you eat – If you rush through your meals, try slowing down. Take time to notice how fast and how much you are eating.
What you eat – When choosing foods, consider how you feel about eating that food. Do you feel excited, guilty, or comforted? Choose nourishing foods you like but continue to enjoy foods that may be less nutritious in smaller portions without feeling guilty.
Where you eat – You are more likely to focus on your food when you are in an environment that is meant for eating, such as a kitchen or lunchroom (avoid meals in front of the TV).
When you eat – Consider what time of day you eat and how long it has been since your last meal. Eating on a pattern that works for you will help you get ahead of hunger and cravings.
Practice Mindful Eating at Home
- Create an enjoyable, inviting atmosphere so that you look forward to your meal. Clear clutter from your table, turn on background music or light a candle.
- Experiment with new foods and flavours. If you don’t enjoy something you’ve tried, try it prepared a different way. For example, if you don’t like raw veggies, try roasting them for a sweeter flavour!
- Choose nutritious foods you enjoy. Include a variety of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and protein foods on your plate each day.
- Pay attention to the smell, taste, colours and textures of your food.
- Take time to eat. Make eating your meal the main focus and put other activities on hold.
- Use mealtime to disconnect. Turn off your TV, computer or cell phone for a screen-free meal.
- Take time to enjoy your snacks without distractions. Portion out snacks instead of eating from the package.
Now that you have some strategies for mindful eating, the next time you reach for a snack or treat, ask yourself if you are really hungry or is your body telling you it needs something else? Remember, if hunger is not the problem, then eating is not the solution.