“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?
EvaJune 13, 2014 at 4:55 pm (9 years ago)
Oh my goodness, I’m right in the middle if an absolutely mindless eating stage right now! I’m rarely hungry, usually just frantic ( working, running a business and 4 little children can do that to a woman!) and eat what ever is there. I’m going to print this out and take notice 🙂
Vegan SparklesJune 14, 2014 at 9:57 am (9 years ago)
Oh yes, being stressed and busy can be huge triggers, Eva, and it sure sounds like you’ve got your hands full! Great idea to use this as a regular reminder to slow down – or maybe even try to carve out a few small windows of time during your day when you can sit and just focus on eating slowly. I’d love to hear how you go. 🙂 xx
PatriciaJune 13, 2014 at 8:59 pm (9 years ago)
I have been working hard on eating more mindfully. I gave up YEARS ago eating while watching something. If I get hungry now in the middle of watching something then I hit the STOP button and go eat, and then come back. It took practice to disassociate watching something with eating something. Never again. I still need to be more mindful while reading something, though. Sometimes it works in my favor because I’m too busy turning pages, and other times–not.
With my almond “ice cream” it’s me and the spoon, and I also try to eat it when it is fairly hard because having to work at it makes it last longer!
Vegan SparklesJune 14, 2014 at 10:00 am (9 years ago)
haha, I love it, Patricia! Making the treat last longer = more bliss. 🙂
And yes, I think the cinema popcorn helped get us all programmed to eat while watching movies, etc. Great idea to hit STOP and then come back. xx
An Unrefined VeganJune 14, 2014 at 10:52 pm (9 years ago)
Guilty! More often than not the fork goes into my mouth with nary a thought…um, how did my plate get empty?! I have been “practicing” putting down the fork/spoon between bites, and it is a great way to slow myself down. Thinking about breathing – stopping and really taking a nice, deep breath before diving back into the food – also has helped.
Vegan SparklesJune 16, 2014 at 9:05 pm (9 years ago)
haha, sneaky plates! I know, it’s so easy to do, Annie!
Putting the fork/spoon down between bites definitely takes practice but is such a great way to slow it down. Love the deep breaths before diving back in too. x