Mindfulness has become a real buzzword over the past few years. And the ethos has already helped millions of people become more aware of their thoughts and live in the moment. It can be applied to almost every area of our lives including walking, running and talking with friends. But it’s the practice of mindful eating which arguably has the greatest health benefits. But what exactly does mindful eating involve?

Mindful eating is less about watching your calories and more about increasing your awareness of what you’re eating and why you’re eating it. The idea is to listen to what your body wants - and not just listening to it grumble. Through mindfulness you can transform your relationship with food and discover a new appreciation for it.

Want to try mindful eating? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Savour your food
Savouring your food is a key aspect of mindful eating. Often we binge on food because we’re so distracted by our thoughts and the gadgets around us. As a result we’re too busy to notice what we are putting in our bodies and this can be hugely detrimental for our health.

But by savouring each bite you can change all this. By being in the moment and focusing on the smell and taste of your food, you can easily become more conscious of what you’re eating. This in turn, helps put a stop to negative eating patterns such as over-eating and unhealthy eating.  

Ask yourself, what do I actually want?
Mindful eating doesn’t say, you shouldn’t eat chocolate or you can’t have cake. Instead it encourages you to listen to what your body wants. Initially, it will be an unnerving experience especially since we’ve become so accustomed to eating the same things day in and day out. But it can, in time, open us up to new foods that we may not have tried before.

Be thankful for your food
Mindful eating encourages us to focus on our connection with people and our planet. By taking a few moments to think about the long chain of people and events that helped get food onto our plates, we can develop a new appreciation for the people around us. From those growing vegetables in fields, right through to workers in the transportation and manufacturing process, it’s a great way to reflect on how interconnected our lives are. This in turn, gives us a new sense of appreciation for what we eat and helps us develop a more positive relationship to it.  

Making it work for you
Eating with awareness doesn’t have to mean all or nothing. With normal diets you may set yourself weight targets or set yourself a timeframe for the diet which you must keep to at all costs. Mindful eating sets you free from all that. There are no targets, rules or timeframes, just intuitive eating that focuses on what you want and your enjoyment of food in each moment.

Even when food focus evades you, there are a few simple tricks you can try. Switching your fork to the opposite hand or eating with chopsticks presents an unusual challenge to eating that requires your attention. Removing distractions like the television or computer can also bring the focus back to the enjoyment of your food rather than a program, game or website.

Dr. Jan Bays, author of Mindful eating, writes about how, using the wisdom of our own bodies, we can approach food with a renewed sense of pleasure, appreciation, and satisfaction. It’s a great way to achieve more healthy living and a better appreciation of our lives.

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