5 Steps to the Mindful Diet
By Dr Dunner February 09, 2018
Can you think back on a time when you were eating a bag of chips, to look down and find it empty without even realizing it? When you see a platter of brownies at work are you just eating them because they are there? How about eating while you watch TV? Do you keep eating the bowl of popcorn until the episode is over? Mindfulness is becoming a bigger and bigger field for researchers to study, and they claim that it could be linked to weight loss.
Mindfulness is keeping your attention in the “now”, or present-moment experiences, not the past, the future, or the hypothetical. When you apply this notion to food, then mindful eating becomes actively paying attention to the meal, and not mindlessly demolishing a bag of popcorn.
The body sends its “I’m full” signal about 20 minutes after the brain, which is why it is so easy for most people to overeat. Slowing down is the best way to let your mind and body to communicate nutrition. Before you head back to the kitchen for seconds next time, wait about 20 minutes to see if you are actually full.
Listen to your body.
How many are victim to looking at the clock to see when it’s time to eat? It’s easy to let your mind tell you when you are hungry, whether it is stress, sadness, loneliness, frustration, or even boredom. Rather than letting these control your eating habits, listen to the signs your body gives you instead. Is your stomach growling? Are you experiencing low energy or feeling lightheaded? These are the signs you need to look to for nourishment.
Consistency is key.
Mindless eating happens when you’re wandering around the house looking for food, eating food just because it is sitting out on the counter, or trying to eat while your attention is on something else - whether it’s work or the television. Rather than this mindless “grazing,” develop consistent and healthy eating habits. Keep food in the refrigerator and cabinets, not sitting out. Eat sitting down at a table with utensils and a plate, not out of the container. This way you can keep better track of what and how much you eat.
Eat nutritionally, not emotionally.
Next time you eat - ask yourself if you’re eating this because it gives you emotional comfort, or because it’s nutritionally nourishing your body. It’s easy to slip into that “I’ve had a rough day. I deserve this,” or “treat yourself,” mentality, but it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself if eating this is for your mind or your body.
Consider the life cycle of your food.
It’s easy to look down at your plate and see the food as an end product. Chicken. Potatoes. Green beans. The mindful diet means thinking about the life cycle of your food, where it started, and how it got here. Think about the time it took to grow the potatoes and green beans, and raise the chicken. The farmers that tended the crops and livestock. The grocers who stocked the shelves. The soil, water, and time it took to get these ingredients to your plate. Once you do that, it’s harder to mindlessly eat the food on your plate until it’s empty, and easier to appreciate every bite and all the hands that helped get it there.