If you’ve ever tried to find out more about Mindfulness, you might have seen or experienced the raisin exercise. In this exercise you are encouraged to eat a raisin as slowly as possible, taking in the look, smell, taste, texture and anything else you notice about this tiny morsel of food. The whole activity takes about 5 minutes and if you consider the time it would normally take you to eat a raisin (probably a couple of seconds), you might start to wonder if you are ever going to have the time to eat a whole meal at this speed. The thing with mindful eating is, that it does not need to be an all or nothing habit.
You don’t have to spend 2 hours over each and every meal. Let’s be honest, who has the time? The benefits of eating mindfully, however can be life changing. Mindful eating can help people to lose weight and enjoy their food more by changing their eating habits and reducing stress. Practicing mindfulness has helped treat a variety of food-related behaviours such as eating disorders and evidence has shown it’s effective to treat depression and anxiety. With these benefits in mind, it is worth trying to incorporate some elements of mindful eating into your daily life. Here are some ideas on ways you can do that.
Concentrate on your food – don’t multitask
This means don’t eat and … watch TV, be on your smartphone, play on your tablet, read your book, work at your computer, or do anything that takes your concentration away from your food. Enjoy the smell, the texture, the taste of each bite.
This doesn’t mean you can never enjoy a TV dinner again, but make it the exception, not the norm.
As already mentioned you don’t have to take hours over every meal but slow down your eating. Wolfing down your food only leads to overeating and indigestion. You can use any of the following techniques to slow down
- Put down your fork after every mouthful
- Consciously chew each mouthful 20 times before swallowing
- Try eating with chopsticks if you’re not used to it
- Use your non-dominant hand to eat
- Take smaller bites than usual
Listen to your body, not your mind
When you want to eat something stop for a moment and listen to your body. Are you actually hungry or does your mind tell you it’s time to eat? Ideally you should only eat when you’re hungry and stop when your body tells you that it’s full. The more you listen to your body, the more you will be able to tell when it needs food rather than giving in to cravings or habitual snacking. This will also stop emotional eating as you listen to your body’s signals rather than emotions such as sadness, anger, stress and other food inducing feelings.
Real signs of hunger are a growling stomach, being slightly light headed, or experiencing low energy.
Once you’re eating keep tuning into your body to find out when you’re starting to get full, then stop and wait to see if you need to eat more. It doesn’t matter if there’s still food on your plate, or you’ve only finished half your sandwich. Over eating, i.e. eating beyond feeling full or eating more than your body needs is unhealthy as it leads to obesity and a wide variety of digestive ailments.
Starting small with mindful eating
Mindful eating does not have to be achieved all at once. Start with one of the above tips at a time and use it for a couple of meals a week, slowly increasing the frequency. If this works well, add another technique. You will soon start to feel better overall and will want to incorporate mindful eating more and more.
If you would like to find out how mindful eating can help you lose weight and how hypnotherapy can help, why not get in touch with me, Samantha Culshaw-Robinson. I’m a clinical hypnotherapist and I have been helping people lose weight since 1988. For a full range of programmes please visit my Weight Loss page.
If you would like to book in for a session, please fill in your contact details on my consultation page.
Disclaimer: As with most practices, mindfulness may not be suitable for everyone. If you have any existing mental health conditions or past trauma, you should discuss these with your GP or mental health professional and these should also be disclosed prior to enrolling in a class.