7 tips for mindful eating

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Take a moment to think about an eating experience. Where was it? Who were you with? What type of food? How long did it take you to eat? Were you satisfied and satiated?

In our daily lives, we often don’t make the time to enjoy the food we eat or think about what we are eating. Many of us eat at our desks, in front of computers, in our cars, watching TV, or standing up as we talk on the phone.  Unfortunately, this way of eating is causing us to disconnect from our food and eating experience.  For some, this can lead to overeating and binge eating as well as digestive problems.

Practising mindful eating can bring you back to being aware of what, where, when and how you are eating and allow you to tune into what food means to you.

Mindful eating is simply the act of paying attention and awareness to the present moment, and ultimately a more satisfying and healthy relationship with food.

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The Center for Mindful Eating (TCME) suggests a few key components to practicing mindful eating:

  • Being aware of hunger and fullness cues and beginning or ending meals based on the awareness of these cues.
  • Identifying triggers for mindless eating including emotions, social pressures or certain foods.
  • Valuing quality over quantity when choosing what to eat.
  • Appreciating all aspects of the eating experience beyond the nourishing capacity of food.
  • Appreciating how food gets to the table and where it came from.

7 tips for practicing mindful eating:
1.  Slow down when you eat.  It takes 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full.
2.  Be aware of your feelings and emotions and how they impact how and what you eat (eg. are you eating in response to an argument with co-workers or family or because you may be bored).
3.  Have a designated area/table for eating that is free from distractions such as the TV, computer, newspaper or book.
4.  Identify flavours in the meal and take the time to use all 5 senses when eating.
5.  Identify where the food came from, and how it was made.
6.  Be aware of the sensation of hunger and fullness.
7.  Keep food diaries or food trackers to monitor your food intake.  (Some of the HLC participants are monitoring their food intake using the web.)

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by Sinead Feeney
Registered Dietitian
St. Paul’s Hospital Healthy Heart Centre