The average American spends two-and-a-half hours a day eating, and while eating we’re usually doing something else too. Because we’re working, driving, reading, watching television, or fiddling with an electronic device, we’re not fully aware of what we’re eating. This mindless eating—a lack of awareness of the food we’re consuming—may be contributing to rising levels of obesity and other health issues.
The antidote to this issue? Mindful eating. In essence, mindful eating means being fully cognizant of your food as you buy, prepare, serve, and consume it. The practice can help you refrain from indulging in certain types of unhealthy foods, while also helping you see how the food you eat affects the world around you. In short, this practice can set the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating.
Want to make mindful eating a part of your life, follow these 8 steps.
Begin with your shopping list
Consider the health value of every item you add to your list and stick to it to avoid impulse buying when you’re shopping.
Manage your hunger levels
Come to the table with an appetite, but not when ravenously hungry. This way you avoid the temptation to fill yourself up too fast rather than enjoying your food.
Portioning is important
Most of the time our eyes are bigger than our bellies, and we overfill our plates with a mountain of food. It’s best to start with smaller portions and add only if necessary. Not only are you being more mindful about the amount of food you eat, it’s likely you will reduce your food waste also.
Appreciate your food
Pause for a minute or two before you begin eating to contemplate everything and everyone it took to bring the meal to your table.
Bring all your senses to the meal
Be attentive to the color, texture, aroma, and even the sounds of your foods as you prepare and eat them.
Take small bites
It’s easier to taste food completely when your mouth isn’t full. Breaking your meal up into smaller increments may also help you get more enjoyment per gram of food.
Chew well until you can taste the essence of the food. You may be surprised at all the flavors that are released.
If you follow the advice above, you won’t bolt your food down. Put down your utensil between bites and devote at least five minutes to mindful eating before you chat with your tablemates.