Give Your Plate Your Full Attention…
That’s it! Now you can click the exit button or simply move on to read another post because I basically just summarized this entire article in six words. Ha, just kidding! You’re still with me right? Great. You see, some individuals “poo poo” the idea of mindful eating thinking is a waste of time. I disagree…
Let me just start off by saying that there is no right or wrong way to eat mindfully. However, I have found it to be extremely beneficial and helpful to those struggling with food anxiety, binge eating, and motivation.
In a nutshell, the main concept is to focus on being fully present and “in the moment” (I know it sounds silly but hear me out) anytime you eat. This means no rushing around or snacking on the go. Eating is a privilege so why not take the time to enjoy and savor the moment while you still can?
Appreciate everything around you and pay attention to how you feel. Take this opportunity to take your mind off daily stresses such as work and try to focus on that nutritious plate in front of you. That is the sole concept of this.
Plus, aside from reducing your food intake, eating mindfully offers four key benefits worth mentioning:
- Increases the pleasure and enjoyment of eating.
- Helps you differentiate between emotional eating and real hunger.
- Help you develop a better and healthier relationship with food.
- Significantly reduces stress.
*If that’s not enough to convince you I don’t know what will (joke).
With that said, I’ve broken down the perfect mindful eating guide into seven easy to implement steps that you can start using today. Literally, you can check off each step as you make your way through your meal! Keep reading because these tips will significantly improve your life in ways you never imagined…
1. Sit Down To Eat!
While you might think this is a “no brainer” you’d be surprised to see how many individuals eat standing up. I can’t help myself but think of my mother when telling you this (she does it all the time) and I have to constantly remind her. By the way, don’t say a word about this.
Now, what I really mean here is to sit down AT A TABLE. Go ahead and make it official. Your food is already on a plate, so make this a ritual and prioritize you eating window just like work. Formalizing your dining experience will help you draw attention to your food and enhance your eating habits big time.
Do yourself a favor and avoid eating out of a box or package. When you sit down to eat, portion out a serving and put away the rest. By doing this you will not only prevent overeating but you will begin to learn what a portion truly is. Once you’re done eating, get up and put your plate away.
2. Make Your Meal Fit In One Plate
The one thing you will become very efficient as time goes by is learning to build your own balanced plate. On top of that, by putting food on a plate you begin to understand just how much you should actually be eating. In my opinion, this is the biggest cause of obesity today.
I call it, “portion distortion”. We have simply lost sight of portion sizes. There is NO PORTION CONTROL any more! The way we think of food has shifted from satisfaction and nutrition to “how much food can I get for the lowest price”. Think dollar menu, four things for four dollars, buy one get one free, etc….
Don’t let society dictate the way you should eat, be different. A simple easy to implement guideline to build your plate is to use your hands as tools:
- Aim for 1 palm of protein.
- Have 1 fist of veggies.
- Add 1 cupped hand of starchy carbs.
- Measure 1 thumb of fat.
*Double this guideline for men.
3. Take Time To Chew Your Food!
As easy as it may sound, chewing is one of the easiest and most simple ways to eat mindfully. You see, when we chew more we eat less. Why? Because we’re taking the time to relish every single bite and enjoy the meal. As you chew, focus on these 3 things:
*In other words, practice mindfulness.
Make it your personal goal to spend at least 20 minutes eating each meal. This is a great starting point but if you can do more then, by all means, do so! Also, try chewing each bite at least 20 times before swallowing. Trust me, this is by far the biggest advice I can give you.
It takes our brains approximately 20 minutes to tell our bodies that we’re full. So allowing time and being present will make you more aware of satiety (you actually know when to stop eating based on your bodies cues). Just choose a number and count your chews until you reach it.
A really good tip is to set an alarm for this. Let’s say you have lunch at 12 pm. Set an alarm to go off 5 minutes before or at the exact time to remind yourself to chew your food X number of times. This might sound childish and silly but it works! Remember that speed eating results in overeating.
4. No Electronics, No Distractions!
Did you know that in a review of 24 total studies the individuals who ate while distracted (watching TV, on the phone, etc…) ate on average 50% more calories than the other non-distracted group? This are incredible results! My sole purpose here with these facts is to make you aware of these things.
This brings us back to a point covered earlier regarding making things a ritual. You wouldn’t be scrolling through Instagram during a meeting right? So why would you do it while eating? Isn’t eating important? Does your health not matter? These are good tips to keep things in perspective.
I mean, it is only 20 minutes of the day. Twenty minutes that can have a significant impact on your progress, your relationship with food, your body’s internal cues, and most importantly your HABITS. You control the outcome. Put the phone away and don’t even think about the TV.
*Remember, to have the timer and alarm set on your smartwatch to help you stay accountable. Little things like these can go a long way!
5. Hydrate Before, Hydrate During!
You see, our bodies are 70% water and require a constant supply to keep us energized and focused. A lot of times we tend to misinterpret hunger for dehydration. You might think you’re hungry when in reality you just need some H2O. Try it for yourself and see!
Water also acts as a natural cleanser and organ purifier. By having a full 12-16oz glass of water prior to your meal you prepare your entire body for proper digestion. Yes, probiotics also play a role here although not as big.
If that’s not enough, I have one more reason that will make you reconsider. That’s fat-loss and losing weight. What we’re technically doing here is playing a savvy trick with our stomach. Water is volume and takes up space in your stomach so you will feel full faster and eat less naturally!
From now on, ask yourself these things:
- Did I have a full glass of water before this meal?
- Am I really hungry or just eating?
- What is my drink for this meal?
- Black Coffee (with CBD Pure for added benefits)
*These questions will really help you build those habits over time and eat mindfully.
6. Learn To Put The Fork Down!
Try slowly overtime to develop the habit of purposefully putting down your fork and remove your hands from it between bites. When you set your fork down it forces you to focus on chewing your food instead of mindlessly pick at your plate for your next bite.
Also, it encourages you to slow down and actually taste of your food, rather than just shoveling it down your throat as quickly as you can. This goes hand-in-hand with the chewing habit mentioned before. Being honest here, of all the tips I have given you this one I struggle with the most.
Hey, not everybody is perfect and we all need improvements with certain things. The funny thing is that my grandmother was the one that instilled this habit on me. She’s not to blame or guilty by any means. But, just because it is a habit doesn’t mean I can’t change it.
7. Stop Eating When You’re Satisfied!
You’ve made your way through to the very last tip and I’m glad that you’ve come this far with me. Don’t let up yet because the best is always last…
While it can be really easy to overlook this aspect just by reading the title but don’t let it fool you. In today’s world, we no longer rely on our bodies internal mechanisms to tell us when to stop eating. Most individuals have no idea what being satisfied truly means…
We have been raised in a society where the only reason to stop eating is when we’ve eaten all the food in sight. This is NOT how things should work. This is a recipe for disaster and in my opinion, is the main reason for overeating. So how do we change? By listening to our bodies.
As you make your way through your meal learn to listen to what your body is telling you. Is your hunger dissipating? Are you savoring each and every bite? Are you taking the time to eat? As you do this, you will begin to feel your body respond and IT WILL tell you when you’ve had enough.
Most often times you’re probably going to have some food left in your plate and that’s perfectly OK. Remember, you don’t have to finish everything in your plate to be “done with your meal”. As long as you listen to your body and stop when you’re satisfied you are doing your body good.
Once you’re done, immediately get up from the table and put your dinnerware away. This will make you less likely to go back for seconds or continue to snack or eat mindlessly. Make a mental note to yourself and let your body know you are comfortably full and satisfied.
*If you crave something sweet after, look for dark chocolate or cacao nibs (delicious, satisfy your sweet tooth, and filled with nutrients)
So, In Short…
When we don’t take the time to slow down and really “be present” at our meals, it is really easy not only to overconsume calories but to develop unhealthy habits with food. By not taking the necessary time to enjoy our meal it can cause our mind to still be “hungry” even though our stomach has had enough.
Perhaps, the most important takeaway from cultivating mindfulness is greater happiness. I can guarantee you that the times when you are the happiest is when you are present and in the moment instead of when you’re wandering elsewhere thinking of other things.
Implementing the perfect guide to eat mindfully is definitely practice and one that might not come effortlessly or overnight. But, it is a vital skill to master for long-term success. Doing so can help reset your hunger and fullness cues, improve your relationship with food, and teach you portion control.
So now let me ask you…
Are you a mindful eater?
Do you need to have a little more awareness?
Did this post help you in any way?
What are your tricks to eat more mindfully?
Let me know below! Share this with anyone who might benefit!
P.S. If you would like to get personalized nutrition coaching from me just fill out the free form and let’s get to work.