How to: Practicing mindful eating

By Madison DeHaven

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The best breakfast, with the best of friends

Photo Courtesy of Madison DeHaven

Mindfulness, a practice originating from Buddhism, is a common buzzword in the health community. The meditative practice can be used anytime and anywhere, whether you are actually sitting down to meditate or riding public transit. It is all about being aware of yourself and your surroundings.

One great way to use mindfulness is at the dinner table. Since the purpose of this practice is to observe your thoughts and environment without judging them, it may be a useful tool to get insight on your eating behaviors. When you are conscious of what, when and why you are eating, you may be more likely to develop healthier eating habits.

So how does one eat mindfully?

Be aware, for starters. Are you really hungry? Hunger is when your body needs fuel (and usually anything sounds good), while appetite is when food sounds good but you are not actually hungry (and you usually want something specific).

If you are not hungry, ask yourself why you are eating before reaching for the snacks. Think about the circumstances, like the time of day. Do you usually eat a snack at this time, so you’re eating one out of habit? Are you celebrating something?

Emotions can play a huge role in appetite as well. Boredom and stress are common reasons for emotional eating. Pausing to reflect on your emotions may stop your eating, or not. The point is just to understand why you are eating.

Enjoy your food. You’ve made the decision to eat, so you might as well sit down and take the time to enjoy it! We all live busy lives and often don’t give much attention to what we’re shoveling down before our next class, meeting, project, etc. When you do have time, slow down and really focus on the flavors and textures of your meal. You probably already know that eating more slowly will help you feel full more quickly. It will also help you notice the flavors more, making your food tastier and more enjoyable.

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Celebrating a successful hike with dessert

Photo Courtesy of Madison DeHaven

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