Many of my clients and friends would be the first to admit that they have a complicated relationship around food and have spent years on diets that don’t work in the long term; so how about trying a new way of eating?
A mindful approach to eating will help you reconnect with you body and with the way you eat. It will allow you to increase awareness of your behaviour around food and give you the tools to make positive changes to that behaviour. You will learn to stop eating on autopilot and find alternative strategies to stop using food as a reward, punishment or distraction.
For most people there are two types of hunger: actual body hunger, when the body needs to take on calories; and sensory or ‘head hunger’, when you eat because you are looking for comfort or distraction, or just fancy eating. By becoming more mindful, you can tune into those sensory feelings and recognise them for just that: feelings, not hunger. Growing awareness of the difference between body hunger and sensory hunger will make it easier for you to only eat when you are physically hungry and will give you the opportunity to approach your sensory hunger in a different way.
The first steps to a new way of eating:
Before you take a mouthful: pause, take a couple of deep breaths and think about what you are going to eat. Use this time to connect with your body and have a moment’s space to make an active choice about what you are going to eat, rather than eating on autopilot.
2. Tune into your hunger levels – head or body?
Take this moment of calm to tune into your hunger levels. Are you physically hungry or bored or stressed? Take note of where you are on your body’s hunger scale and tune in.
3. Eat more slowly
Be conscious of the fact that you are eating, which may sound daft; but you would be amazed the number of people who eat on autopilot and scarcely remember the act of eating once it is over.
4. Make eating an event
To enjoy your food, ensure your environment is calm and conducive to eating well. Sit down and use a plate as research shows you will eat less than when you grab food on the go.
5. Get rid of distractions
It is harder to tune into your body and your hunger levels if the TV is on or there is music playing. Keep it simple so you can really enjoy what you are eating.
6. No more clean plate
If you have been trained to always finish everything that is on your plate, allow yourself to stop eating when you are full. Of course, wasting food is something to be avoided, but by putting food that you don’t need into your body you are treating your body as a dustbin. The end result being that you are still wasting food and having weight gain as an unwanted side effect.
7. Be kind to yourself
If you make a mistake, show self-compassion and recognise that you just made a mistake in that moment, it does not mean that changing your eating habits is impossible, simply that you lapsed, but you can now try again.
I'm a Personal Coach who loves finding out about what makes people tick and helping them to make the changes necessary to get to where they want to go.