“hhhmmm, I might have a coffee”, I mused as I glanced at the menu at a local cafe.
“But you already had one today”, my man objected.
I furrowed my brow. “No I didn’t.”
“You did!”, he laughed. “I made you one and you drank it while you answered your emails this morning.”
And so I did! * Face palm! * For all the hours I spend coaching my clients to eat (and live!) mindfully, I had gone and done the mindless eating thing myself. I love treating myself to coffee and was so disappointed that I’d robbed myself of the experience. By attempting to be savvy and multitasking, I wasn’t fully present. I’d consumed my coffee and not even enjoyed it. What a waste!
Aaahh, mindless snacking. In this day and age, it’s so easy to do. We stuff food (and coffee!) into our mouths while working on the computer, watching TV, playing with our smartphones or when we’re on the go. We rarely stop to think about whether this food is truly nourishing us – or even think about it at all.
The pleasure in eating (and the key to managing comfort-eating and portion sizes) lies in mindful eating. In slowing down and fully experiencing all of the elements of our food.
So how, exactly, does one do that?
Try this. When you serve your next meal, start with a small portion. Sit in a quiet place and take a moment to really appreciate your food. Notice how it looks and smells. Breathe in the delicious aroma with the intention to savour every mouthful.
Pick up your fork (or chopsticks!) and eat slowly. Notice every aspect of the flavour and texture. Put your fork down between bites and chew well. I know, I know – easier said than done when you’re hungry – but digestion begins in the mouth. By thoroughly chewing your food, you’ll better assimilate nutrients and naturally slow down your eating. Try holding your fork with your non-dominant hand to really slow you down if you find you need extra help.
When you finish your meal, take a deep breath and really tune in to your body. Does it feel satisfied? It takes about 20 minutes for the hormones leptin and ghrelin to tell your brain that you’re full. Give your body a chance to tell you whether it really needs more food or not.
Likewise, take note of the times when you mindlessly snack. What triggers this for you, beautiful? Are you really hungry or is there something deeper going on? Maybe you mindlessly munch between meals out of boredom or habit, or when you feel frustrated, scared or overwhelmed. How could you better address the emotions you might be trying to comfort with mindless snacking?
If and when you choose to treat yourself to special foods – whether that means cake, coffee or potato chips – make it an experience. Invest in the highest quality treat you can find. Sit in a comfy spot at the dinner table, in a cosy cafe with friends, or out in the sunshine. Pull out your favourite china plates or crystal bowls, or play your favourite tunes in the background. Really be present and savour every mouthful. Make it count, baby! By really enjoying your treat, you’ll be less likely to crave more later.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Do you have any other tips for eating mindfully? What tends to trigger mindless snacking for you? How do you overcome it?