How To Practice Mindful Eating

Today it seems like everything is just a click away; groceries, your banking information, a last-minute date. As technology develops and our world becomes more interconnected, it’s becoming easier not only to expect gratification but to expect it instantly. 

So how do we slow down and focus on enjoying the moment, even when we’re doing something as simple and essential as eating? The key is to find balance, which is, of course, incredibly difficult. But, like all good things, it’s worth the challenge and will help you beat sugar cravings once and for all. 

But how do we tune into what we’re eating when our #eats are often the subject of our Instagrams? The first step is cutting down on unnecessary distractions; i.e. scrolling on Instagram, checking your email, or catching up on The Bachelor. Research from the Netherlands found that subjects who consumed food and drinks while distracted required higher concentrations of sweetness and saltiness to feel satisfied. Another study found that children who consumed dinner while watching TV were more likely to be overweight than their non-TV-watching counterparts. 

The second part of intuitive eating is getting in touch with our cravings and our judgements about what food we “should” and “shouldn’t” eat. Labeling certain foods “bad” and others “good” is restrictive, which can lead to complications and overeating down the line. Just as the rebellious teenager rebels against strict parents, so does you body when you impose a strict diet on it. 

If we want to move toward a healthy relationship with food we have to practice mindfulness around our eating. Learning and becoming attuned to our bodies natural signs of hunger are vital to treating our bodies with the care and respect they deserve. Studies suggest that our strategies to cope with sugar like strict dieting and avoidance aren’t always effective. Instead, it seems that depriving ourselves of sugar can exacerbate the very addiction we’re trying to avoid. 

Intuitively or mindfully eating is a more effective way to approach sugar cravings. By opening up the possibility of enjoying and partaking in all kinds of foods, we free ourselves from the punitive mindset surrounding our appetite. And treating ourselves like we can be healthy at any size is crucial for long term success.  By practicing intuitive eating we treat sugar as something to be enjoyed in moderation and not as something sweet we can never have.

Like any practice, mindful, intuitive eating takes work. And yes, there are days where mistakes happen. Maybe sometimes you reach for a double chocolate muffin because you’re stressed and not because you’re hungry. But forgiving ourselves for being human is far more effective than expecting perfection. 

So, to om or to nomm? Do a little bit of both.