How often do you find yourself gobbling food whilst doing something else? Many of us eat on the hoof, at our desks and whilst watching television. It is mindless eating as we are unlikely to pay much attention to the sensation and taste of the food. This can be so mindless that sometimes we can barely remember what we have consumed and when. It is highly likely that you over-consume when you regularly eat like this.
Developing awareness of what you eat will benefit you in many ways. Making a conscious effort to savour and fully experience what you eat will decrease autopilot behaviour and when practised regularly this will also apply to behaviour that is not related to food. Awareness can help you take control of what you do, help you choose which behaviour to adopt and which to abandon. You can train yourself to experience life more mindfully and food is a great place to start. To become a mindful eater, commit yourself to eat at least one meal or snack each day with full awareness. When you get better at it, extend it to more meals. Start with simple foods so you can easily detect the flavour and texture of each item. Make time for your meal or snack, sit down and don’t engage in anything else whilst you are eating.
It starts with choosing your food. Think about what you would like to eat and whether it is really food you want or whether you are bored or stressed and make the right choice. Choose nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods where possible. Nutrient-dense food makes you feel better and is more satiating so you are less likely to feel hungry again soon. You may feel a chocolate muffin is more satisfying than a healthier option but you’ll find the satisfaction doesn’t last long and you’ll be left wanting for more and probably not feeling great. Processed foods contain a lot of sugar, salt and flavour enhancers. These desensitise your taste buds and you’ll find that when you stop consuming them you’ll re-discover and enjoy the taste of real foods. You will enjoy the natural sweetness and saltiness of what you eat and the smell, texture and how it feels in your mouth.
Look at your food before you eat. Smell and feel it. Think about where it came from. Where possible, prepare it yourself with care and interest. Think about the nutrients of the food and how it will benefit you. As you become more tuned into tasting your foods and recognizing the nutritional benefits of it, you will become more in control of your behaviour around food and this can be extended to other areas.