What do you understand when you hear the word ‘mindful eating?’ No, it is not a complicated exercise to undergo during your meals. Still, instead, it is a technique designed to give you control over your eating habits. This is important, especially during unprecedented times such as COVID-19 when we can easily fall into the trap of binge-eating and sleeping. Such a routine will prove detrimental over time, so it is essential to remain aware of what you’re putting in your body.
What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating is a Buddhist concept based on mindfulness, which is a form of meditation. It involves the following aspects:
- Eat slow and with focus
- Be aware of hunger and non-hunger triggers
- Be appreciative of the food you eat
- See what makes you hungry and eat till you’re satisfied
- Maintain good health
- Be mindful of the smell, texture, and flavor of the food you eat
Mindful eating exercises
Jon Kabat Zinn first coined this concept called the ‘’Raisin Meditation.’’
The idea is as follows:
- Holding: Take a raisin and hold it in your hand
- Seeing: Focus on it in a way that puts all your concentration into it. Carefully examine its features from color, texture, structure, etc.
- Touching: Next is to tap into your tactile sensation. Feel the raisin between your fingers and notice it’s texture.
- Smelling: Place it beneath your nose and inhale. Alongside, notice any sensations in your stomach when you do that.
- Placing: Bring the raisin up till your lips and, without chewing, feel it in contact with your tongue.
- Tasting: Start by taking a bite or two and be aware of how it tastes in your mouth.
- Swallowing: Be conscious of the desire to swallow before you even do it.
- Following: Trace how it feels as the raisin moves down your stomach. Note down how your body feels after this exercise is done.
The two-plate approach is a method designed to aid in portion control when you don’t necessarily know how much to eat and balance. This is how it is:
- Take two plates – one for eating and one for serving. Fill the serving plate up with food that you intend to eat.
- Transfer some of the food from the serving plate to the eating plate. The amount depends on you, but remember to keep yourself aware of how much you need to satiate yourself.
- Cut down all the food in the eating plate to small pieces.
- Eat all the cut-down food in a slow, mindful manner.
- When you are done eating, take a moment, and reflect on whether you need to eat more. If the answer is yes, go ahead and make another helping from the serving portion, but if not, that’s the end of your meal.
Mindful Eating Plate
The Mindful Eating Plate is a technique designed by Dr.Susan Albers. It focuses on a visual she created to enable people on how to focus their attention on their food. She divides a standard plate into four sections:
- Observe: Notice your body cues – hunger, lack of energy, stress, full or empty.
- Savor: Pay attention to the texture, taste, and aroma of the food.
- In-the-Moment: Be present. Leave everything else and only concentrate on your diet.
- Non-judgment: Be mindful of your thoughts and notice when any ‘’shoulds’’ or guilt comes up.
- Aware: You should know the difference between tasting and mindless munching while you eat.
Tips to form mindful eating habits
- Do not multitask while eating.
- Eat slowly and gradually. Take at least 20 minutes to finish your meal and take mindful. Breaks between bites.
- Be aware of the quality rather than the quantity of the food you eat.
- Calorie Budgeting – make sure you consume the right amount of calories to remain healthy.
- Be appreciative of your meal.
- Take a few bites of your favorite food, so you don’t feel like you’re missing out, but do not eat so much that you feel guilty.
- Always sit and eat instead of on the go.
- Chew plenty of times when you eat.
- Choose a smaller plate when you opt for the two-plate approach.
When it comes to mindful eating, there is no one strict approach to keep you going. It comprises small, everyday shifts that you can adopt to enable you to grow healthier. Remember, its the quality, not the quantity of the food that matters!