5 easy ways to practice mindfulness
Having a healthy diet and controlling your weight is largely the result of what you eat, but what you eat is strongly influenced by how you eat. For instance, eating in front of the TV encourages you to eat thirty percent more than you would otherwise.
The concept of mindfulness steams from a Buddhist technique used to encourage people to live in the present moment, but it also provides the basis of a simple but incredibly effective way to have better control over how you eat.
The top 5 ways to introduce mindfulness
1) Ask is it “head hunger” or “belly hunger”
Differentiate between “head” hunger and “belly” hunger to determine what your body really needs.
Belly hunger is a genuine signal from your body that it needs nourishment. It develops slowly, some hours after your last meal, and isn’t for any particular kind of food.
Head hunger develops quickly, is unrelated to meal time and is often for a specific food type.
For example, your tummy rumbling in the morning is belly hunger but that urge to eat chocolate when you’ve finished your dinner? That’s head hunger.
2)Eat without distractions
Turn off the television, stop using your computer or phone or put down what you’re reading. Eating is between you and your food.
3)Be aware – or mindful – of your food
Bring your awareness entirely to the food in front of you. What does it look like? How does it smell? Eat each mouthful slowly and put your cutlery down in between bites. Chew for as long as you can. Really focus on the taste and sensation of the food in your mouth. Swallow and then pause for a count of 3 before preparing your next mouthful. Remember, eating isn’t a race, but if it were, the slowest person would win.
4)Ask what head hunger really needs
If your hunger is coming from your head and not your belly, then try something other than food to feed it. Head hunger is usually prompted by stress or fatigue, both of which can be fixed by a few minutes of brisk exercise instead of eating. Go for a quick walk, run up and down a flight of stairs or do a few yoga poses.
5) Be mindful of what you’re thinking
Be conscious of what you’re thinking while you’re eating so that you can start to change the pattern. Common thoughts are “I need to finish everything in front of me” or “I’m going to have some chocolate once I eat this”. You are not your thoughts and you don’t have to act on them. Simply become aware of them and then let go of the ones that aren’t going to benefit you.
Mindfulness is called practice for reason, and that is that you need to work at it. Simply bringing your awareness to the why of your eating will go a long way to controlling the how and what.