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  • Writer's pictureElfreda Manahan-Vaughan

Three Tips for Eating Mindfully


It’s not uncommon for many of us to over-indulge over the Christmas or holiday period and this is why diets seem to be one of the top New Year’s resolutions on many people’s lists. Or in some people’s cases at the start of February as they finish off all the leftovers after the holidays (that’s if you have any left). I regularly find clients will come to me at this time of year to help realise their goals both personally and professionally and the subject of diet, health and fitness usually emerges at some point.


When I teach Mindfulness I always include a section on Mindful Eating because Mindfulness is one way that you can greater control over, what you eat, when you eat, how you eat and most importantly how you feel about yourself, your body and physical appearance.

I myself struggled for many years with my weight, controlling my eating habits, and my overall opinion of my body. It has through mindful awareness of my thoughts and my eating habits that I now feel I have a healthy relationship with food but most importantly with myself.

So, with this in mind, here are my Three Tips for Eating Mindfully, whether you are on a diet or simply want to have a better relationship with your diet and your body.

1. Pause Before Eating.

This is such a simple thing to do but one we often neglect to do when we are hungry, in a hurry, or paying attention to something other than the meal in front of us; your children, the tv or revisiting the argument you had at work earlier in the day. When we pause before eating we can give ourselves some time to check in with how hungry we are, what we are feeling emotionally, how distracted we are and what our intention is when it comes to this meal. We often neglect to think about the meal itself. Are we eating out of necessity or are we actually hurry? Do we like what we are about to eat or are we punishing ourselves with food we don’t really like because we think we need to diet. Many of these thoughts can create a negative relationship with our food but can have consequences for afterwards when we find ourselves reaching for the biscuits, or cake, or mindlessly eating something in front of the tv.

2. Notice Your Food.

When we begin to eat it is very important to really notice our food. In a regular Mindfulness class this action is often done whilst eating a raisin. It always amazes me how people’s opinions of the raisin changes from intense dislike, or pleasure, at the thought of eating it, to one of curiosity or even indifference by time they’ve swallowed it. When we take time to notice the texture, taste, smell, sweetness, sourness or bitterness of our food our relationship to that particular food can change. Sometimes we realise we don’t really like it, other times we are grateful for the nourishment or satiety that it brings. Look at your food, smell it, notice your opinions or thoughts about it but most importantly slow yourself down with each bite you take.


3. Pay Attention to Your Body

This tip is very important and was one that really helped me to overcome overeating and have better portion control. I didn’t realise for a long time that I had no idea when I was full, or sometimes I couldn’t tell if I was really hungry. When I began to pay attention to my body I realised I need way less food than I had thought previously. My plate size decreased twice in the space of a few months, my portions got smaller and smaller and I found I was much more satisfied after my meals and so, far less likely to want to indulge in treats once my main meal was over. By paying attention to our bodies we can begin to notice what food our body gets pleasure from, what nourishes us and what makes us feel unwell, overly full, or tired and sluggish. After a very short space of I time I found it easy to say no to food because I was able to recognise that I wasn’t hungry. This became a new rule for me, am I hungry, ‘yes’, I can eat, ‘no’, then, no I can’t. This was especially helpful for me as I often struggled to pass up dessert and would be stuffed after a meal out, and uncomfortable all night. (top button open, indigestion and ‘never again’ on internal replay).


When we pay attention to what we are experiencing in the moment around food it can become a lot easier to detect when we are comfort eating, eating out of habit driven by cravings, or bingeing because we are placing too much control on our diet and lifestyle. This is also very important because overeating can often be a response to too much control the rest of the time. I think one of the most important things to remember is that the more we love ourselves and our bodies then the kinder we are to ourselves, the better we eat and the more care we take to give our body what it wants.


Thanks for reading, if I can help you in anyway then please get in touch.

I hope our paths cross again in the future,

Elfreda

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