Thursday, August 15, 2019

Key Reasons to Eat Mindfully with Tips to Succeed

Most of you know it’s unhealthy to overeat and gain extra pounds or skip meals to shed weight. Yet when stressed or rushed, you may reach for comfort foods, eat on the go, or veto a meal entirely.

This post offers tips to help you learn more about mindful eating and ways to help you do it.

Mindful eating is the practice of bringing open-minded awareness about your food choices, the how and why you prepare and eat certain foods, and ways foods and the eating experience affects your body, feelings, mind, and all that is around you.

Want to learn key reasons to eat more mindfully, tips to help you let go of pre-mealtime stress, and techniques that help you slow down and be fully present to enjoy the pleasures and health benefits of mindful eating?

Mindful eating studies show those who eat mindfully are more successful at sticking with a meal plan that supports wellness. The example is from Michael Greger MD.

Research about mindful eating also suggests that paying attention while eating assures full digestion as well as optimal nutrition benefits. 

The initial phase of digestion begins with the brain seeing, smelling, and anticipating food. If you are tense or distracted any place in the process, food may not be fully absorbed. See more at Mindfulness Helps Us Digest and Enjoy Our Food.

Additional studies indicate mindful eating may help reduce body mass index (BMI), reduce anxious thoughts about food and body image, and help those with diabetes get a better handle on managing symptoms.

Word of warning: Check with your medical professional before changing your diet. Posts on this site are offered for informational purposes, and not offered as medical advice.

Tune into your body’s signals to identify real hunger. With practice, you’ll be able to discern “when,” “how,” “where,” and "what" to eat for nourishment, health, and to create a sense of well-being in you. 

Just understand, one size does not fit all. Make your goal  "progress." Through trial and error you'll develop a meal plan and follow through with methods that fit your lifestyle. See this for more tips.

Aim for progress not perfection, and you ’ll feel encouraged and happy about foods' important place in meeting your health care needs.
Mindful Eating Can Evolve 
Spontaneously When you Do the 

Before you begin preparing a meal...

Clear clutter from table and kitchen counters. Mail, keys, papers, and work stuff detracts from the physical setting for an enjoyable meal. When junk blankets the dining table, it makes it tempting to eat on the couch or eat standing up. 

Take a moment or two to breathe deeply, and put aside any cares or concerns you felt during the hours before this meal. Perhaps even take a moment or two to say a thanks for the abundance in your life.

Then, gather brightly colored ingredients, lay them out, cut them up, and place them in the appropriate pot, pan, or on or in the stove.  

Notice details about what you’re doing in each moment. Are you following a cookbook recipe, winging it, opening a package, or cutting off the tops of radishes or carrots? Do you hear anything as you cook, feel air or lack of air around you, etc. How does the sauce you are simmering smell, look, taste, feel?

For fresh menu ideas, see Colorful Whole Food Plant Based Meal Ideas to simplify meal planning. 

You’re not cooking food to be eaten, you’re simply cooking the food, and you’re doing it with all of your being.

Before you actually sit down for a meal, pause to consider everyone involved in bringing your food to the table. 

Think of the loved ones or yourself who will prepare it, those who planted it, the water, soil, and other elements that were part of the creation, those who harvested the ingredients, to those who transported it to markets or will deliver it to your home. 

When you go back to the origins of the food you are eating, you’re likely to breathe easier, feel grounded, grateful, and sense you are interconnected.

Listen to physical hunger cues and distinguish between true hunger and non-hunger triggers for eating including boredom, loneliness, anger, sadness, joy, fatigue, and craving for love or comfort.
Set the intention to be mindful for at least one meal a day. Then branch out to two or three mindful meals a day. Expand your practice and include meals at home, with family and friends, and in restaurants.

Remember to engage all your senses and take in the colors, smells, sounds, textures, and flavors of the foods you are going to eat. 

Here's food for thought. Ask yourself whether the food you are choosing to eat contributes to your physical, emotional, spiritual, mental, community, and planetary health.
Keep your eyes on your table mates and the food. Take part in conversation. 

See this tip from Etiquette Expert Candace Smith:

“Have you noticed that table settings only include the tools necessary to assist you during dinner with others?  There are plates, glasses, forks, knives, spoons, and napkins.  Add humans and food, and you have a complete dining experience.  
This is why the table etiquette rule is: No items other than those included in the table setting are appropriate on the dining table.  Ergo, phones and other electronic devices should not make an appearance during a meal.” See more at  Using Your Phone at the Table.

When you are eating a meal solo, sit down at a table to eat without a book, electronic device or busy work. This will direct your attention where it can do the most good.

Notice the feelings, thoughts, and ideas that surface when you eat slowly, and without distraction, Give your full attention to the food you eat, and you'll be better able to notice when you feel satisfied, but not overstuffed. Stop eating then.

Eyeball your food to determine portion size, and be focused on selecting quality rather than quantity. 

Use a luncheon sized plate instead of dinner plate, if you have a problem gauging portions. 

Keep fresh, whole food on hand. You'll be less tempted to munch on junk food, and have more say about what is in or isn't in your food. 

After a mindful meal, notice how you're feeling. Are you tired, alert, grateful, hyper, or relaxed?

The food you eat and the mindset you bring to it, has a direct impact on your mood, outlook, health, and energy level. 

Make it a priority to eat mindfully one day at a time, and you're sure to succeed in increasing pleasure and health.

Get mindfulness tips and ideas through journal writing. Pick up your copy of Colors of Joy: A Woman's Guide for Self-Discovery, Balance, and Bliss.

Illustration chapter 3 from self-care journal, Colors of Joy

Its colorful journal exercises, reflective space, and affirmations help you feel joy and centering as you become more self-aware and present (mindful) in your life from day to day. 

Journal owners have commented that it makes a great gift idea as well. See what they shared here or here. 💖

Do you want to eat meals more mindfully? 

Why do you think that's a good thing to do? 

What tips that I've written about can help you do more of it? 

Please comment below in the space provided. I read and appreciate each one, but will not publish comments when they contain links. Thanks for understanding. 💗

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This post has been shared at August 16th: Saturday Sharefest

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  1. Nancy,
    This was a very well researched and very insightful post with some valuable information. You covered a wide range of ideas with some excellent tips. I love the idea of clearing clutter and being conscious of thoughts and feelings. Thanks Nancy

  2. Hi Judee, I'm honored you feel that way and so glad you told me. Have a beautiful day.

  3. Thank you for sharing this. This is certainly food for thought and I learned so much today from reading this.

    Happy Sunday, Nancy!


    1. Thanks Veronica Lee for the visit and comment. Love being at #SaturdaySharefest and Happy Sunday to you too.

  4. Interesting on the colours...#MLSTL

    1. Thanks Lydia for the visit and comment. Glad the colors interested you. Healthy to eat a combination of at least 5-9 servings of colorful veggies, fruits, legumes, beans, nuts, and seeds a day. Be well and have a pleasant evening.

  5. Hi Nancy - my husband and I remind ourselves about trying to be more mindful when we eat - meals seem to go down so fast otherwise. We're big fans of preparing our own food, eating the rainbow and moderation on red meat. I'm also trying to keep our sugar and carb consumption down more these days.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I've shared on my SM :)

  6. Thanks for these reminders, Nancy. I have to be honest, I am not a good mindful eater, never have been, but will take this advice to heart and try to slow myself down and enjoy eating a meal rather than just doing it because I have to. #MLSTL

    1. Thanks Candi for the comment and visit. Good luck and best wishes for many mindful meals in the future. Fun to visit and post on #MLSTL.

  7. Fantastic tips! I am so guilty of eating while scrolling through my phone. This is just a great reminder to eat mindfully in so many different ways. I pinned and will really try some of your tips!