Are you actually hungry? How often do you ask yourself that question before putting food into your mouth?
What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating is about how you experience and think and feel about food. It is about being present with your food as you're preparing and eating it, avoiding distractions. Many of us eat because the clock tells us to, with little or no thought as to whether we are actually really hungry. Most people eat when they are feeling emotional, be they positive or negative emotions. Some of us eat mindlessly when we are bored and lacking in mental stimulation. Which of these rings true for you?
If you always eat lunch at 12 and dinner at 7, try a few days of asking yourself if you are truly hungry when the time comes. Ask the question, then pause and wait for the answer. Use your intuition and tune into the feeling in your stomach as much as possible. Maybe you are a little hungry but by delaying your meal for an hour, you will have more of an appetite and enjoy your food even more.
Mindful vs intuitive eating
Mindful eating is about being present before, during and after food, tuning into all the senses you experience. Intuitive eating is similar – and there is overlap across both – but intuitive eating is a more focused approach that encourages you to tune into your body's signals in regard to what and how much you should eat.
Emotional eating often stems from a hunger for love and comfort. It may seem like a packet of biscuits will solve your problems and make you feel better but try and think ahead to how you might feel an hour later. The emotions you were experiencing that prompted the biscuit eating are very likely to be still around, and you can probably add in guilt, too. Instead, perhaps try something soothing like a cup of herbal tea, a hot bath, or spending some time with friends.
If you find yourself eating mindlessly, whether at work or watching TV in the evening, there are a couple of possible solutions to try. Firstly, pay attention to how you are really feeling and use your intuition to decide if hunger or boredom is at play. If you know that you are not actually hungry, just bored and lacking in mental stimulation, then distraction can work wonders. Get away from your desk for a few minutes, have a chat with a work colleague, turn off the TV and call a friend, or even better, get outside for some fresh air and exercise.
Mindful eating is a powerful way of living. It takes time to learn how to listen to our body and trust in what it is telling us, but the success and happiness it can bring are well worth the time.
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