Here’s some brief information about how you may be able to approach the way you eat differently. Most of us have a number of aspects of our lives which we undertake on “auto pilot” and often while “multitasking”. It’s not uncommon for people to be eating while also sitting in front of the computer and simultaneously conducting a telephone call. What this ultimately means is that we don’t become focused on any single one of those activities and instead we’re constantly juggling the mental resources we have to try and manage all of them. Even for the cleverest and most skilled people, this is difficult.
Mindfulness is a word that you may have heard and you may even have some understanding of the concept. Explained simply, mindfulness refers to the idea of drawing your full attention into the present moment and not allowing yourself to be distracted by future fears, past regrets or other things demanding your attention in the present. This idea can also be applied to the way you eat to help you become more aware of what you’re eating, how you’re eating and why you’re eating it.
The practice of mindful eating involves using all your senses when you eat and working hard to eliminate other distractions. Follow the simple steps below and you can start putting this into practice straightaway.
First of all, LOOK at your food. What does the portion size look like? Are you feeling hungry enough to meet all of that food or do you simply eat that amount out of habit? When you cut, break or bite off a piece of what you’re eating, take the time to TOUCH it and SMELL it before you put in your mouth. What does it feel like? For example, if it feels sticky in your fingers, there’s a good chance it contains a great deal of sugar. Is this the best food choice for you right now? Bring the food to your nose to SMELL it. See what you can identify in what you smell.
When you’re ready to take a bite, put a small portion in your mouth (no more than about a matchbox size portion at the time) and simply hold it on your tongue for 2 to 3 seconds. What does it TASTE like and FEEL like? Start to chew your food and move it around your mouth as you concentrate on chewing slowly and methodically. Notice how the food can TASTE and FEEL different in different parts of your mouth. When you’re ready, swallow. Notice what it FEELS like as it slides down your throat and pay attention to the area of your body where your stomach is and notice what you feel as the food slides into your stomach. Now count to 7, before you take some more food and keep eating. Repeat the same process above for each mouthful of food that you eat.
Will this make you eat more slowly? It will. But there’s nothing wrong with that. I want to encourage you to practice mindful eating as much as you can. If you feel like you can’t afford to take the extra time to do this at every meal, then I want you to do two further things. The first one is to challenge yourself about whether you really can’t afford to take the time to eat methodically and mindfully. The second is to consider whether you could practice mindful eating to start with just for one meal per day.
I wish you well in your weight loss journey. There are many ways in which psychological treatment may be able to help you. If you think you may benefit from talking with a Psychologist, approach your GP first and chat to them about a referral.