Last week over on my Instagram account I shared a post about how I really honestly feel like my relationship with food had become very negative and unhealthy. I was binging on chocolate and sweets probably twice a week, and I mean to the point where I felt sick. It wasn’t healthy, I had a definitive idea in my mind of what was healthy and what wasn’t, and if I broke that and had something ‘bad’, which I was very frequently, I’d be negative to myself and I just got into a vicious cycle. Not only that but because I was eating foods that were less healthy and because I was eating way more than necessary, I felt sluggish and lacking in energy as well as bloated. I decided to come up with the hashtag #MindfulEatingMay and it resonated with so many of you that I thought I would share 5 ways to eat mindfully.
What is Mindful Eating?
There are probably many ways to explain or describe mindful eating, but in my mind, it’s the opposite of eating mindlessly. In the last few months I’ve found myself half way through a bag of minstrels numerous times without even realising how much I’d eaten. Mindful eating is taking the time and consideration to think about what you’re eating, how much you’re eating, where you’re food is from and how you’re eating it. I know that I rarely actually take the time to think about what I’m stuffing in my mouth, where it’s come from, and how much of it I’m eating. Mindful eating is also analysing whether you’re eating something you need. We often eat when we are bored, emotional etc., which doesn’t actually benefit us in anyway and can usually make how we’re feeling worse.
What are the Benefits of Mindful Eating?
There are a tonne of benefits that come with practicing mindful eating, you will undoubtedly feel better in your body as you learn to eat when you’re actually hungry, and you learn not to be triggered by your emotions. In return your relationship with food will get better and you will in turn probably be a lot happier. With mindful eating you’ll learn more about how different food affects your body and how you learn what suits you best in terms of diet, which I think is really interesting! So here are five of my top tips on eating mindfully:
- Listen to when you are hungry and when you are full
Our bodies give us very clever and very obvious cues as to when we are hungry, listening out for this and eating when your body is telling you it’s hungry (as opposed to be being bored or upset and craving food to soothe that), will help you to understand what your body really needs and when. Our bodies also give us the same cues to tell us that we’re satiated and that we’ve eaten enough, but it does take a little bit longer this way round. So often have I over eaten and ended up feeling sick because I didn’t eat slow enough, and as a result my body didn’t have a chance to tell me that actually I wasn’t hungry anymore.
- Limit distractions when eating
I am so guilty of stuffing my face whilst watching something on TV, paying no attention to what I am actually eating, I’ve been doing it for years. But if you actually limit the distractions around you whilst you’re eating, e.g. no TV, no phone etc., you will begin to focus on what you’re eating and you’ll be less likely to overeat, you will also probably enjoy what you’re eating way more.
- Think about what you’re eating
Being conscious about the food you’re putting into your body and actually thinking of the ingredients has changed the way I look at food. I try and limit the amount of food that have an ingredients list on the back, as this way I avoid preservatives and other things that aren’t necessary in life my diet. But this also comes down to the quantities of things I’m putting on my plate. A really great way of noticing how much and what I am eating has been to get an accountability partner. Myself and a friend send each other Snapchats of everything we eat in a day, this way you actually take the extra 20 seconds it takes to take the snap, to look at what’s on your plate, the longer you do this for the more of a habit it becomes and that 20 second consideration period won’t need to be forced anymore. Also, think about where your food is coming from, I am going to try really hard to actually check the packages of food to see if anything is in made in the UK, because most of our fruit and veg comes from abroad. If I can start to consume more locally grown produce, then I’ll not only be eating fresher food (and getting more minerals and vitamins), but I will also be lessening my environmental impact.
- Think about why you’re eating what’s on your plate
Why are you eating that? Go on, tell me. If you’re eating for any reason other than to nourish and fuel your body, perhaps take a second thought about it. I’m not saying we can’t eat for enjoyment, but I am saying that if every meal we eat is simply to enjoy it, and we’re not thinking about the nutrients we’re putting into our bodies, then we’re not helping ourselves. The reality is, is that our bodies are only designed to consume a certain quantity of food, and more often than not you may be feeling bloated because you’ve simply overeaten. If you blow too much air into a balloon, what happens? It bursts. Too much of anything is a bad thing. If you are going to eat something that may not be super nourishing or good for you once a week, that’s absolutely fine, just acknowledge it, accept it, and move on, don’t allow any lingering negative emotions surround it.
- Lose the idea that there are ‘good’ foods and ‘bad’ foods
Newsflash, our bodies don’t see any difference between say a frozen pizza and a nice healthy salad. Our bodies see it as a combination of fats, carbohydrates and protein. The quantities of each may be different, and the quality of them may be different, but at the end of the day our body takes what we give it and breaks it down. Yes some foods are better for us and are more easy to digest, but our body won’t suddenly hate us, go into lock down, or increase its fat % by 10% if we eat something less healthy. Just accept what you’re eating for what it is, food, nourishment, and start to look at the foods which make you feel better and which give you more energy. The other evening I went out for Tapas and ate A LOT, and a lot of it wasn’t super healthy, but the next day I was able to absolutely smash my gym session because I’d eaten higher calories, my body wasn’t hating me for eating ‘bad’ foods, it was actually enjoying the extra energy.
I have only been doing mindful eating for a week, and already I am feeling the benefits within my body. I feel happier, more content, and my bank is loving not buying the extra chocolate every Saturday when I’m home alone feeling tired and sorry for myself!
Do you have any mindful eating tips? I’d love to hear from you!