13 Jan 5 tips to help you eat more mindfully in 2022
Eating mindfully takes practice. It takes time to recognise your own body’s physical hunger and fullness signals and to recognise how different foods make you feel. This article shares 5 tips to help you eat more mindfully throughout this festive period and into 2022.
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is about being aware of your thoughts and emotions and how you feel before, during and after eating. It’s about being fully present and engaging all your senses during an eating experience and not having any judgement.
Mindful eating has a number of potential benefits including:
- It may reduce emotional eating and help promote a healthier relationship with food.(1)
- It may help regulate appetite and prevent binge eating.(2)
- It can help reduce stress around eating and therefore benefit digestion.(3)
5 Tips to help you eat more mindfully
- Foster a mindful-eating environment
It’s not realistic to be fully mindful every time we eat, but practicing a mindful moment, when you can, should help you get in-tune with your body’s signals. Start by sitting down and removing any distractions. So, put your phone away, turn off the TV and clear the table of items unrelated to meals so that you can focus completely on what you are eating. Take a few deep breaths before eating to help you relax and take in your surroundings.
- Eat slowly
Take small mouthfuls and chew eat bite thoroughly. Digestion starts in the mouth and chewing each mouthful 20-30 times will help mechanically break down the food as well as allowing the digestive enzymes in your saliva to begin to break down the food. Try putting your fork down between bites, or take a deep breath between bites to help slow-down your eating.
- Engage your senses
Consider all the sensory aspects of eating to help distinguish the foods you find satisfying and nourishing to your body. Focus on one sensory aspect at a time, for example: the look, smell, temperature, texture, flavour and sound of the food. Using all your senses when eating can help you notice how the food is making you feel and whether you’re enjoying it and want more.
- Recognise different types of hunger
We all experience different types of hunger and being able to distinguish between a physical hunger, when your body is needing energy and nourishment, or a psychological hunger that is based more on cravings, emotions, boredom or your surrounding environment (for example when you see a food advert on TV or social media). Feelings of physical hunger often differ from person to person. Early signs may include a feeling of emptiness in your stomach, stomach rumbling or mild hunger pangs, feeling irritable, fatigued or finding it difficult to concentrate. These feelings tend to build up gradually. Psychological hunger tends develop suddenly and may create a desire for a particular food.
- Consider where you are on the hunger scale
When thinking about how hungry or full you physically feel, consider a scale of 1 to 10 – with 1 being feeling starved, weak or dizzy, and 10 being extremely full to the point you feel quite sick, nauseous or pained. Aim to keep your hunger in the middle, between 4 and 6. Check out the free Mindful Eating resource here. Having regular meals and snacks will help provide a steady stream of nutrients and keep energy levels topped up. This should also help prevent a negative impact on your mood and concentration, which may lead to emotional eating.
Eating mindfully can help you enjoy what you’re eating and help you get more in-tune with your body. However, as everyone is unique, this approach may not suit everyone. If you are struggling with your relationship with food, do seek support from your GP or speak to a Registered Dietitian.
Dr Laura Wyness,
“The Nutrition Navigator”
Eating well and having a healthy relationship with food as well as doing regular activity can have a wide range of benefits to your wellbeing. Inside Out PT offers a range of classes as well as advice from our Nutritionist to support you in improving you overall health and wellbeing. Click here to find out about a free trial.
- O’Reilly et al (2014) Mindfulness-based interventions for obesity-related eating behaviours: a literature review. Available: doi: 10.1111/obr.12156
- Katterman et al (2014) Mindfulness meditation as an intervention for binge eating, emotional eating, and weight loss: a systematic review. Available: doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2014.01.005
- Cherpak (2019) Mindful eating: a review of how the Stress-Digestion-Mindfulness triad may modulate and improve gastrointestinal and digestive function.