8 Steps to Mindful Eating

This will take some adjusting but it will contribute to a better you and a better world!

Aug 27, 2019

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Everybody eats, we have to eat to be able to sustain ourselves. In fact, according to the USDA, American's actually spend less than an hour-and-a half eating per day. That's what we use for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. That's how long a typical meal in an American sit-down restaurant takes. In Europe, meals take even longer. In France, a workers lunch break is two-hours long.  

So why do American's eat so fast? How many of us actually take the time to savor and really enjoy our food? How many of us actually concentrate on eating while not working at our desks, looking at our smartphones, or watching TV? How many of us are actually aware of what we are eating or even appreciating it?

We may not even know the answers and this type of mindless eating could be contributing to the US's obesity epidemic and other health issues according to Harvard Health Publishing.  

Changing this mindset is the key to better health, better living, and a better planet. We have to begin to eat mindfully by being truly present in the moment as well as being aware of our thoughts, feelings, and our bodies. Mindful eating takes some adjusting in the way we choose the foods we eat – things like organic, fair trade, locally grown, or free range— and the way we eat. Here's how:

Make a shopping list

Making a list before you go to the supermarket will help you plan healthy meals and think ahead about what you are going to buy. That way you are shopping for specific items and not making impulse buys. Fill your cart with fresh produce and skip the processed foods and junk food.

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Come to the table hungry but not starving

If you skip meals and are ravenously hungry when you get to the table, you will just wolf down your food and probably overeat. Many weight-loss counselors use a great tool called the Hunger Scale to help people connect to their bodies hunger and fullness cues. While using the scale, you wait until you are pleasantly hungry before you eat and stop eating when you are pleasantly full but not over-stuffed.

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Start with a small portion

Take a smaller helping of food than what you are used to eating, you can always take seconds if you are nor full. If you fill your plate, you will probably finish it because that is something we were taught to do as children. Try eating with a smaller plate. Order lunch sized portions in restaurants. When you are cooking at home, use the appropriate serving size and not what manufacturers call portion sizes.

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Appreciate your food

Stop for a minute or two to appreciate your food and think about what you are eating and what it took to bring this meal to your table. If it is your tradition, pray before a meal. Compliment the person who made the meal and express your gratitude for the food and for the people you are sharing your meal with.

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Bring all your senses to a meal

When you are cooking, serving, or eating, pay attention to the different foods. Pay attention to the colors, textures, aroma, and even the sounds – like the crunch of a carrot – of the different foods you eat. Focus on the taste of the food, is it sweet, sour, salty, or bitter? Try to identify all the different ingredients in your food.

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Take small bites

It is easier to taste your meal if you take smaller bites. Put your utensils down in-between bites. This will allow you to really enjoy the food. Serving and eating bite sized pieces could also help you eat less because you eat slower.

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Chew thoroughly

This works on the same concept as eating smaller bites. Take the time to thoroughly chew your food so you can taste every essence. You will enjoy and appreciate your food more plus as an added bonus, you will also eat less.

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Eat slowly

By the time you get to this point, you have already mastered taking smaller bites and chewing your food thoroughly. Eating slower is good for your body and good for your soul. Devote a few minutes to mindful eating before you chat with your table mates and before you even think about going for your smartphone. People are usually told to slow down and smell the roses, now you should slow down and really taste the fresh fruits and vegetables.

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