Whether we’re opting for a working lunch, or consuming unhealthy, convenient-like foods, as a nation, our eating habits are far from mindful status. In fact, many of us are likely to lack an understanding of mindful eating and the benefits that it can offer, especially for those with negative eating habits, behaviours and outlooks.
Of course, eating is a routine for us, it is an automatic action. We subconsciously eat, and by that, we mean that our mealtimes are part and parcel of our day, no matter what our day may hold.
However, through such a routine action, our eating habits are suffering, where consuming food is more of a chore, a battle or an unhealthy behaviour, rather than a present choice.
Sadly, across the UK, many individuals do suffer from eating disorders, from obesity, from malnourishment, from binge eating, from food addictions, and from nutritional deficiencies. Many believe that such behaviours are ingrained down to the monotonous action of eating, where we’ve built up such negative associations.
This is why mindfulness, the act of being present is recommended, to slow down and truly consider the value of eating healthily and rationally. Here are some top tips to eat mindfully, along with the benefits of doing so.
What is mindful eating?
Mindfulness is the act of promoting presence. By slowing down, aiming for a present and focused state, and by increasing awareness, mindfulness can be practised. Down to our fluctuating and unhealthy eating habits, which can be concerning for some, mindful eating has developed as a recommendation, which carries many benefits.
To eat mindfully will benefit those who struggle with convenient eating outlooks, those who binge eat, those who are overweight or obese, and those who suffer from food attachments. Through clearer choices, promoted through a mindful state, control will be present, to opt for healthier and suitable eating options.
Mindful eating will look something like this:
- Slow dedicated mealtimes
- Distraction-free mealtimes
- Differentiating between hunger cues, cravings and greed
- Eating for health purposes, rather than weight/visual benefits
- Considering the positives of healthy food on your wellbeing and mental health
- Appreciating the opportunities to eat mindfully
- Prioritising mealtimes over other engagements
Mindful eating will be new to the majority of us. Some significant adaptations may be required by some individuals, to break unhealthy eating habits and psychological outlooks on food.
It’s understandable that through such a fast-paced life, that eating mindfully may feel like an unsustainable habit, which will reflect more of a trend. Yet through some top tips to eat mindfully, you can at least increase your presence and understanding of food, nourishment and eating behaviours, to resemble a mindful state.
Top tips to eat mindfully
Of course, through busy days, to eat mindfully may seem like an unrealistic goal. Yet, with some planning, you can increase your presence when consuming food.
Plan your mealtimes
Planning ahead is key when aiming for a balanced diet. Consider your weekly shopping list, by avoiding any trigger foods, by avoiding impulse buying, and by avoiding convenient meals. This is your time to be mindful, by selecting nutritional goods.
Consider your portions
While in the midst of a distracted mealtime, it’s easy to overeat. This is a key concern for many individuals, especially surrounding binge eating and food attachment. By following pre-arranged portion sizes, you’ll be aware of what to eat in order to feel full, rather than indulgently satisfied.
Connect with your food
One of our top tips to eat mindfully surrounds connectivity. We easily connect with other stimuli which surround us while eating, such as our emails or smartphones. Instead, by stripping back all distractions and by focusing all of our senses on our food, we can practice mindfulness.
Take small mouthfuls
In a rush, we will devour our food in minutes. Instead, taking small mouthfuls will allow us to understand when we’re actually full. Awareness around personal eating habits should be present, which can be secured by eating small mouthfuls, slowing down mealtimes.
Appreciate your mealtime
As the food is a necessity, it’s common that appreciation levels are low. We should flip this, to be appreciative and grateful for the food that we have, and the resources that are present to fuel our health.
Naturally, through every meal, this may be unrealistic. Yet, it is recommended that you turn your attention to the blessings that you have, as much as possible, to improve your mental health and your mindfulness.
See eating as an experience, rather than a chore
To eat is an automatic action, which requires little attention. However, through that, it’s easy to overeat, to eat the wrong things and to binge eat. It’s also easy to rely on food to provide emotional support, as little attention will be placed on the nutritional contents of goods, and instead of the feelings, it motivates.
Turning your mealtimes into experiences, rather than a chore, to eat mindfully will soon come together for you, as you’ll appreciate both the benefits of your diet and the positive, sustainable feelings that it promotes.
Overcoming bad eating habits
We all have bad eating habits from time to time. Yet for some individuals, those habits are uncontrollable and are difficult to break. If you’re suffering from binge eating, food addiction, or from an unhealthy relationship with your weight, it’s important to understand why.
By working with specialists, including our team at Ocean Recovery, you can look to consider the motivates behind your eating habits, along with utilising manageable tools, such as mindful eating.
Stripping back food, eating and the experience of consuming meals can offer many benefits, from regaining control to maintaining weight loss, to defining eating disorders, and to acting on healthier lifestyle choices. By implementing our top tips to eat mindfully, those benefits can be experienced on a consistent basis.
For more information on how nutrition impacts mental health, mood, quality of life and behaviours, contact our team. We’re experts in addiction, rehabilitation and mental health recovery, fully promoting the proactive skill of mindful eating.