Top Tips for Mindful Eating

As the norm in society now is to be overweight rather than a normal weight it can feel trickier and trickier to make good dietary choices for health.  Mindful eating is an approach to food and consumption which may help you eat better for yourself, but also in consideration of eating more sustainably for the planet.   So here are some top tips for mindful eating to help you.

Eat to a pattern Whether your pattern is 3 meals per day or 3 meals and a snack, stick to what works for you. This will help you to train your body to identify hunger signals.  If  you feel hungry  in between these eating episodes, you can consider whether you are actually hungry, or if you are craving something else.

Take a breath before opening the fridge or cupboard door. Maybe put a sticker on the front to remind you of the more mindful approach you are trying to adopt. Counting out 60 seconds may help you walk away. Sometimes we all just need a moment.  And if you would like a breathing exercise to try, why not consider this one which looks to mindful breathing as a helpful way to centre you.

Ask yourself what is going on Are you really hungry? Perhaps you are just  bored? Maybe you are  tired? Is work stressing you out?  Identify why you think you might be hungry and figure out if you really need to eat, or if you just want to eat.

If you are not hungry

Walk away. And if you don’t need to eat think about how you could comfort yourself in a different way. I like to do something physical, as it distracts my brain and helps me concentrate on something else. Leaving the house and walking in the park, or just walking around the block can be enough to dissuade me from messing with my eating routine. Find your ‘go to solutions’ by trialling different distraction techniques.

If you are hungry

Eat sitting down. This helps with digestion and metabolism of food, and allows the body to optimise absorption and use of nutrients.

Serve food on plates or in bowls. Don’t eat from the fridge, or from packets or bags. Lay the table and make your food look nice. Use a napkin. Treat yourself as you would a friend you invited for a meal.

Enjoy a measured amount. Using smaller bowls and plates can help us manage our portion sizes as food tends to look bigger the smaller the plate. If you are still hungry when you have finished, you can always go back for more.

Take your time at the table. Sometimes setting a timer for 20 minutes can help, even longer if you have opportunity to relax and rest after the meal. Another idea is to use chopsticks if you are not used to them, or using your non-dominant hand to eat. Eating differently helps to slow us down also.

Take small bites. Put your spoon or fork down in between mouthfuls. Sit back. Chew well. Breathe. Then lean forward and enjoy another mouthful. Repeat. Try not to add to what’s already in your mouth, but wait until you have had a proper swallow before having some more food. This helps with savouring and enjoying the deliciousness of the food we are consuming.

Sit and eat without distractions. So no TV or screens or other devices. Don’t even have them on the table. We can all do with eliminating some technology from our lives. Let your mealtimes be the beginning of some  tech free time.

How does it all feel?

Consider the senses. Spend your first 5 minutes noticing the food. What does it look like? How does it smell? What is the texture like? Can you pick the food up? Does the food crackle or sizzle before or during eating. Food can be so interesting, we just need to remind ourselves.

Pay attention. Consider your body and how you are feeling. Remember you don’t have to eat everything on the plate. You are allowed to leave food behind.

If these top tips for mindful eating feel challenging to achieve by yourself, get in touch. I will be happy to help you implement this mindful way to improving your eating and your health.

Felicity Lyons

Hi there! My name is Felicity. I am a registered dietitian and sports nutritionist with a proactive approach to healthy living. My job is to interpret the complexity of nutrition science and translate it into messages and guidance that you can understand. Healthy Living? It's easier than you think!