The core principle behind mindful eating is not about what you eat, but about how you eat it. When you eat absent-mindedly, as you might do in front of the TV, then you are prone to eat quicker and more than you might need. This can lead to less than desirable health outcomes. However, when you dine with conscious awareness of how much you are eating and how quickly you are eating, then you are more likely to feel satisfied with your meal and eat less food overall.
Mindless eating can occur when we get into automated ruts and routines; we might eat the same thing every morning, or eat at the same table at the same time each day, which makes us prone to consume without thinking. We might also wander into the kitchen for a snack when we’re bored, eating just for the sake of eating. There are many ways to become a more mindful eater, but we’d like to share a particular approach from a new study published in the journal Appetite.
As reported in Psychology Today, seventy-eight participants were served either a typical lunch of cheese and tomato pasta or breakfast food of porridge with milk and honey. When they served lunch for breakfast, the results showed that participants ate slower, less food, and reported feeling more satisfied.
The idea is that people tend to naturally slow down and pause when things are unusual or out of the ordinary. By switching up your routine, you break out of your automated ways and start eating more mindfully.
To bring some conscious awareness into your eating habits, psychologist Susan Albers suggests trying the easy-to-do Mindful Eating Challenge. It goes like this:
- Sit in a different seat at the kitchen table.
- Eat your lunch for breakfast—a peanut butter sandwich, a salad, leftover meatloaf.
- Use a special bowl you rarely use.
- Eat something new and different.
- Notice how it feels to break out of routine eating habits. Do you eat slower? Enjoy it more? Notice how satisfied you feel? These are all aspects of mindful eating.