The benefits of mindful eating are no secret! Studies have shown that mindful eating can help minimize overeating and binge eating, manage weight, and ease anxious thoughts about food and your body. To learn about the basics of mindful eating, check out my blog Mindful Eating: 3 Simple Steps for Emotional Eaters
While mindful eating sounds great, it may be a big lifestyle change for you to start practicing, and any behaviour change is easier said than done. So, to get you started, I’ve come up with 4 practical tips for mindful eating that you can start today! Whether you’ve heard of mindful eating before and have been wanting to give it a try, or are just learning about it now, these tips are for you!
1. Meal Planning
Having regularly planned meals is so important to keep us energized and satiated which helps to prevent binge and overeating! When we don’t have a plan, our busy schedules may lead to skipping meals, mindlessly snacking throughout the day, or overeating at night. When we have even a loose plan for when and what we’ll eat each day, we’re less likely to overeat and binge since we’ve managed to nourish ourselves properly throughout the day.
2. Meal Prepping
If you’re able to prioritize planning your meals, you may find it helpful to meal prep too! While not for everyone, meal prepping is a great way to ensure you’re eating well-balanced meals each day. Instead of reaching for a frozen pizza or cookies when you get home because you’re starving, having something in the fridge or slow cooker that’s prepped and ready to go can help keep you on track and nourish your body the way it deserves. Meal prepping can be as simple as doing all your groceries on the weekend, or as intricate as cooking ahead of time and dividing the food into individual portions for the week. You decide what works best for you!
3. Eat without Your Electronics
We’re all glued to our smartphones and tablets at every hour of the day, but unfortunately, this can be a distraction during our meals and inhibit us from eating mindfully. If you’re often checking your phone during lunch, try putting it away for at least 15 minutes so that you can have a distraction-free meal. By removing our electronics, we can focus all of our attention to our food and eating experience. This is what mindful eating is all about! Being present and enjoying all the great sensations of food. When we’re glued to our phones, we’re not able to pay attention to how our food looks, smells, tastes and feels. When we do pay attention to these things, we are tuning into our bodies and listening to our hunger and satiety cues. This ultimately is what prevents us from overeating.
4. Set a Timer
Mindful eating is the opposite of binge/overeating. While binge eating is characterized by eating fast, uncontrolled and absent-mindedly, mindful eating is slow and present. To practice mindful eating means to slow down! A practical way to slow down is to set a timer for one of your meals. If you tend to eat your lunch in 10 minutes or less, try setting a timer for 15 minutes and stretch out your meal. During this time, pay attention to your food and all the sensations you miss when you eat too quickly! Over time, try to make your meals a bit longer (in 5-minute increments) until it becomes intuitive to eat slowly.
If you struggle with emotional eating, remind yourself that diets don’t work! Instead, focus on mindful eating which may be key in tackling your eating challenges. Stay tuned for more practical tips!