“So many people in active eating disorder hide the truth from themselves and others about what they’re doing with food, to the point where they zone out and aren’t even aware themselves.
That makes mealtime one of the best places to start practicing mindfulness – being present with what you’re eating so you don’t miss that experience. For many people recovering from eating disorders, conscious eating or mindful eating is very helpful.”
In our 12 Keys to a Healthy Weight series, we explored some of the benefits of mindful eating. These include:
- Helps your brain to register when you’re full, leading you to eat more moderate portions that are appropriate for your body
- Allows you to savor and enjoy every bite, treating yourself lovingly
- Makes life feel richer as you appreciate the abundance of food in front of you
- Calls your attention to any unhealthy behaviors or habits that may creep back in
- Gives you more appreciation for every moment of your day
Here are 12 tips that will help you get started with mindful eating, and back on track if you stray:
- Always eat meals sitting down – notice the times you eat standing up, such as accepting free samples at the grocery store, or tasting food while you’re preparing meals
- Make your kitchen or dining room a pleasant and aesthetically-pleasing place to eat
- Turn off electronic devices and put away any reading materials
- Keep tempting or triggering foods out of sight
- Prepare and set out the entire meal before you begin eating – aim for a variety of colors and foods in each meal
- Chew each bite of food thoroughly, noticing the tastes and textures
- Pause and take a sip of water between bites
- Tune in to your body and notice the effect the food is having
- Notice the difference between hunger, desire, cravings, satiation and pleasure
- Plan mindful meals with family members, friends or a support group – eat together in silence
- Start with five minutes at a time if that’s what you can manage
- Use this affirmation to reinforce your commitment to mindful eating: I listen to my body’s messages and give it what it needs.
The non-judgmental nature of mindfulness encourages us to gently redirect our thoughts if they stray from the present moment. That applies to mindful eating as well.
As someone who has struggled with compulsive overeating, binge eating or food addiction, you’ve likely tried very hard not to be present while you’re eating. Mindful eating is a new practice that will take time, but offers rich rewards for your recovery.