There’s a massive movement in ‘mindfulness’ at the moment, from colouring books, techniques and meditation to cleaning!

So, why not eating?  I think mindful eating is a pretty powerful thing.  So many people who struggle to control their weight or make changes to diet eat without giving any value or worth to the food they consume much thought.

Why you should think before eating

I’m not endorsing obsessing over everything eaten, but what I am encouraging is thinking about what you eat before you eat it.  Before making a choice asking a couple of questions…. am I hungry? Is this going to fill me up? Does it have some nutritional value?  So whilst you stand at the chocolate counter or arrive at the drive through, you may indeed be hungry but what you choose will likely affect the other two answers.

Why is it helpful?

Throughout the year there are times when sticking to your health goals are challenged (holidays, Christmas, stresses at work etc), so plenty of opportunity to fall back into old habits. Whether you want to avoid eating too much, gaining weight, controlling your blood sugar, or ensuring you are fuelling your body, it makes good sense to think about what you put in your body and how much.

Mindfulness refers to the practice of being aware of the moment. So much of what we do is habit, all too often we make choices based on habit rather than rational decisions.

How can it be applied?

I worked with a client last year who grabbed food on the go, ate at his desk/ car and generally went through the day without much thought to his food.  He was overweight and low on energy, and felt he wasn’t actually “eating that much”.  By working together, we focused on a balance of greater awareness of what he was choosing (he was genuinely surprised by how much sugar was hidden in stuff), and how food made him feel – energised v sucking energy, full v empty… these simply things, alongside other tools and techniques helped him become more informed and making choices based on what they did and the quality rather than just the first thing he saw.  He found his energy levels improved, he started sleeping better, and he lost some weight – all by being a bit more mindful.

Tips for mindful eating

  • Read labels – don’t just focus on the calories either!  Sugar content and chemicals are just as important
  • Eat when you have an appetite rather than ravenous – if you skip meals you are more likely to eat the first thing that comes to hand, rather than the best thing for you
  • Appreciate your food – take the time to enjoy the moment of eating – remove distractions, taste the food and enjoy the time – eating when distracted often results in overeating
  • Chew thoroughly – I was always told to chew my food properly as a child!  But its so true, imagine the stress we put on our systems by wolfing down our food and delivering it in massive lumps for our bodies to cope with!
  • Take your time – time how long a meal takes and then try and slow down each time you eat – aim for 20 mins.  Not only will you recognise easier when you are full, you may also chew, appreciate and enjoy your food more!

Of course, as with many things we’d like to do or change, there can often be a challenge in applying the knowledge and that’s where health coaching can help. Focusing on the health changes you want to make and turning the what into the how.