By Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
Want mindful eating tips–and to know the biggest mindful eating benefits? Learn the importance of self care and nutrition self care with this advice!
The power of positivity is real. That's pretty much how the phrase, "fake it till you make it" came into being. Treating yourself well, believing in yourself, and respecting your journey are all great ways to foster the confidence to live a life you love!
If you can take the time and energy to do show yourself lots of love, chances are that healthy eating habits are not far behind. I attend virtual yoga and Pilates classes, and create my own work schedule to stay true to myself. And I eat healthy meals and snacks, as well as practice mindful eating.
Coincidence? I think not. Treating your body well inside and out is an act of #selfcare in and of itself! Be sure to spread the self-care love with healthy and delicious food for you and your family. I bet your food choices will improve–and your energy levels just might, too.
What is Mindful Eating?
Simply put, mindful eating is the act of being present while you eat while acknowledging your feelings surrounding the eating occasion. Mindless eating, on the other hand, is totally distracted eating.
Practicing mindful eating involves paying attention to the food you eat. The benefits of mindful eating are that you tend to eat more slowly, which means you get in touch with feelings of fullness. Mindful eating can be helpful for anyone looking to manage her weight or who has eating disorders such as binge eating disorder.
Eating mindfully can definitely help your relationship with food and can help you pay attention to your emotional health. And most of all, mindfulness-based eating can help you to feel good.
Curious about how to practice mindful eating? Read on!
Ways to Practice Mindful Eating
1. Keep the Snacks Out of Sight
Whether it’s Super Bowl chicken wings or Valentine’s Day chocolates, have a bite or two of your decadent snack—and then set it out of sight and distract yourself for 15 minutes.
You’re likely to feel as satisfied as if you ate much more food. At home? Return a phone call or straighten up the kitchen. If you’re at a party, walk into a room without snack food to chat with a friend.
2. Have a Healthy Meal in Mind
So many factors can influence you to sway from the light dish you had in mind to a heartier option. For instance, diners eating in the corner of a restaurant versus the front are more likely to eat less salad, order ribs, and have more dessert, per research.
Before you head out for a meal, make a rule to have just two splurges—such as buttered bread and a glass of wine. Then order a reasonable entrée.
When at a restaurant, ask the server, "what are two or three of your lighter items that people really like?" You can ask specifically for dishes with lean meat or less fat. You may find out about surprises like a sirloin roast, with less fat than traditional pork chops.
If you’re heading to a get together, decide ahead of time what healthy dish you’re going to bring along, such as hummus and crudité, or a broccoli and quinoa salad. Eating these balanced dishes will help keep your blood sugar levels in check, too.
3. Keep an Uncluttered Kitchen
Having a messy kitchen can lead to overeating. In a study, women in a noisy and messy kitchen ate twice as many cookies versus similarly stressed women in a quiet and organized kitchen.
What does this tell us for the upcoming fall holidays? Schedule a kitchen cleanup long before you bring home meal leftovers or a sweet treat from the bakery.
4. Slow Down and Savor
One of my favorite activities is trying new restaurants and going out to eat with my family and friends. Of course with the current pandemic, I haven't done so much of this. But one can daydream!
Sometimes when I’m eating with other people, I slow down a bit. I do this not only because I’m savoring my food but also because I’m focusing on the conversation and good company.
Cornell University scientists looked into how people may eat differently in the company of others. In a series of small studies, researchers asked male and female college-age students to take part in a chicken wing eating contest—with and without cheering spectators.
Although the prize was a simple plastic medal worth just $1.29, the volunteers were invested in the competition, eating about four times more food than they normally would. The men ate significantly more with the cheering spectators and said they were excited by the competition. On the flip side, the women ate less and said they felt slightly embarrassed.
The study authors note that men involved in these studies were more likely to want to show off their eating skills, versus the women subjects. While you might not be at an eating competition anytime soon, what you can take away from this study is the company you’re with and how your environment may impact your way of eating.
So be mindful, slow down, and savor the foods you’re consuming. Don’t think about eating as a competition of who can eat more or the fastest—especially when you’re at a buffet, all-you-can-eat, or party environment where food is plentiful.
How to Practice Nutrition Self Care
1. Be Kind to Yourself
Your thoughts are very powerful! They can change your outlook on your life, so use the power of positivity to be a happier and healthier person.
I share my top self-care tips with PsychologyToday.com. They're the ones I use daily to keep my eating in check!
2. Get Enough Sleep
It's hard to make good food decisions when you're feeling sleep deprived. Part of the importance of self care includes getting enough sleep. Aim for at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. If your goal is to lose weight, getting ample shut-eye will only help.
3. Eat Calming Foods
Part of taking care of yourself is treating yourself to at-home spa treatments. So bring the spa into the kitchen with fun blender recipes from TheFashionSpot.com while you practice self care.
What a fun way to reduce kitchen waste, benefit your mental health, and create recipes that'll make your skin smile. And don't forget to blend up relaxing smoothies, too, like the recipe I share in this article.
This blog post was updated in September 2020. A version of this content originally appeared on WeightWatchers.com.
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I'd love to hear from you! What are your favorite tips for mindful eating? How do you incorporate eating mindfulness into your day?
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