Mindful Eating: 101
I recently gave a Mindful Eating workshop and wanted to share some of the main highlights for those that couldn't make it! I am also sharing the yummy Kombucha Sangria that I made for the event. Hope to see you at the next one!
We are always being told what we should be eating, but how does that help if we still have a poor understanding of the how/why?
Mindful eating is the practice of making conscious food choices in response to physical and physiological hunger and satiety cues. A simplified definition is learning and listening to your body telling you when it is hungry and when it is full. This can be really challenging, especially when there are emotional responses to food both good and bad. That's where the mindful eating cycle comes in handy.
Begin asking yourself these questions about your eating.
Why are you eating? Are you actually hungry? Check in with yourself here to see if you are eating because you are bored, sad, happy, stressed, etc...
When are you eating? Is it a certain time of the day that you feel like you should be eating, you are physically hungry, or again are you emotionally eating?
What are you choosing to eat? Are you choosing food based on convenience, taste, comfort, nutritional value, etc?
How are you eating? Do you speed through meals, sit in front of the TV, eat in secret, or are you present during each meal? Having your phone on you at all times including meals can increase distracted eating.
How much are you eating? Are you stopping because you are physically feeling full? Eating based on the package size or the habit of how you have always eaten?
Where does the energy go? Where are you putting your energy? After you eat are you feeling ready to go, or tired? Are you more focused on whether that food was good or bad?
These questions can be hard to answer sometimes, but challenge yourself to find where you are for each of them. Talk through some of them with a dietitian, friend, partner, etc. It will help bring light to some of the habits that are contributing to us not being able to be mindful when it comes to eating. If you tend to eat when bored, stressed, or sad, find new ways to cope with those things. Meditate, go to a workout class, or take a long bath. Giving your body space from food can help you better understand what your body is trying to tell you.
After you have asked yourself those questions, here are a couple of tools to help when you are choosing foods and understanding your hunger and satiety cues.
The 80/20 rule:
The 80/20 rule is one to give you freedom from guilt if you eat a food that has been classified as "bad". Stop labeling foods good or bad, this increases the emotional attachment to food. Allow yourself to break the hold food has over us in certain situations. Challenge yourself in that 80% to be plant-based. So, lots of vegetables and fruits!
Hunger Satiety Scale:
Trying to stay within the range of 4-7. This will ensure that you don't deprive your body of food when it needs it, or eating more than is needed. Don't let yourself get to a 0/1, when that occurs you will more thank likely over consume at your next meal and won't be mindful at all. While eating, pause and make sure that the meal lasts at least 20 minutes. That will give your stomach and small intestine time to tell your brain you're full.
Mindful eating is a wonderful practice. It takes time to fully understand your cues. Remember that each person is different and you and your hunger and satiety cues are different from everyone else's. Enjoy the experience of food again!