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Finding Peace on the Plate: The Practice of Mindful Eating

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In our delicate existence as humans, nourishment and hydration are essential for our continuous well-being. Despite the abundance of advice on what to eat, we often overlook a crucial aspect: our relationship with food. 

Let’s delve into the practice of mindful eating and explore how it can revolutionize our approach to food.

Understanding Mindful Eating

Mindfulness, which originated in Zen Buddhism, has become increasingly popular as a way to calm ourselves and develop healthier eating habits. Mindful eating is a straightforward approach that involves focusing on the present moment and being fully aware of our senses while eating. It can help us better manage our eating habits and feel more confident about our bodies.

However, mindful eating isn’t about counting calories or tracking macros (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats). It’s not even about losing weight, although it has been shown to help with weight loss. Instead, it’s about genuinely enjoying and understanding our food while also reducing the stress that often comes with overeating unhealthy food.

Practical Tips for Practicing Mindful Eating

1. Recognizing True Hunger

Our bodies communicate their need for nourishment through hunger cues such as the grumbling of a hungry stomach. Addressing physical hunger is straightforward: eat something! However, things get a bit trickier when emotions come into play. This is when our feelings drive us to snack or overeat, regardless of whether our bodies actually need fuel.

Cravings, boredom, and emotional eating all fall into this category. 

Research has shown that boredom is a primary culprit behind psychological hunger, often leading us to reach for snacks to combat feelings of dullness. 

Here’s a handy trick to break free from boredom-induced snacking: when you feel the urge to snack, give your hands to do something, go for a walk or try reaching for a glass of water instead. Find what works best for you. 

By distinguishing between physical and emotional hunger, we can make more mindful choices about when and what to eat.

2. Visualizing the Future

Before diving into a meal, take a moment to visualize how you’ll feel afterwards. Ask yourself questions like: Will eating this food bring up any emotions? Why do you think these emotions are coming up? Are you eating because you’re genuinely hungry, or are you using food to cope with a specific emotion or issue in your day? Will this meal leave you feeling nourished and satisfied? If not, why?

This simple exercise can help us connect with our food on a deeper level and make more conscious choices.

3. Removing Distractions

In today’s fast-paced world, eating mindlessly is easy while distracted by screens or other stimuli. A review of 24 studies published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that distracted eating tends to make people consume more food throughout the day and can lead to an unhealthy relationship with eating.

By turning off electronic devices and focusing solely on the act of eating, we can fully appreciate the flavours and textures of our food.

4. Slowing Down and Savouring

When it comes to eating, there’s a neat little trick your body plays: it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to catch up and realize you’re full. Eating slowly gives your gut and brain the chance to sync up, which not only helps prevent overeating but also improves digestion. Chew your food well, and don’t quickly swallow large chunks of food. You will enjoy your food more as you improve your taste buds. Also, if you want to lose weight or think you are overeating, chewing well is helpful as you will feel satisfied from eating less.


Here are some tips for making your meals more satisfying:

Set a Timer: Before you dig into your meal, set a 20-minute timer on your phone. Take a few deep breaths to centre yourself, and then aim to stretch your meal over this period. Relax and savour each bite. 

Pause Method: If stretching your meal over 20 minutes feels daunting, try the pause method. Between each bite, put your fork down. You can also switch to chopsticks or a smaller spoon to slow your pace. For an extra pause, step away from the table briefly and take three deep breaths before returning to your meal. 

Chew Deliberately: Make a conscious effort to chew your food thoroughly. This not only aids digestion by breaking down the food more effectively but also helps you feel full more quickly. In the first 5 minutes of your meal, take smaller bites and aim to chew each bite around 20 times before swallowing. 

By incorporating these strategies into your meals, you can create a more enjoyable and satisfying eating experience while also promoting better digestion and preventing overeating.

In Conclusion

Mindful eating isn’t just about what we eat—it’s about how we eat. By incorporating mindfulness into our daily eating habits, we can foster a healthier relationship with food, improve digestion, and cultivate a greater sense of well-being. Moreover, mindful eating can help with weight loss by developing a more intuitive approach to eating and reducing emotional overeating.

So, the next time you sit down for a meal, take a moment to pause, breathe, and savour each bite. Your body and soul will thank you for it.