“The problem is not in the food… The problem lies in the mind. It lies in our lack of awareness of the messages coming in from our body… Mindful eating helps us learn to hear what our body is telling us about hunger and satisfaction. It helps us become aware of who in the body/heart/ mind complex is hungry, and how and what is best to nourish it.”
An Art and a Discipline
It’s a discipline to eat mindfully for me because I must become aware during my meal. It is an art because I must tune in to my body and its inner signals like I’ve never done before.
Why is it such a struggle?
I really began pondering this question when a client said, “Why do we need diets? Don’t our bodies know how much fuel is needed?” She had a point. When we’re babies we know what to eat and when to stop.
“Mindful eating is a way to become reacquainted with the guidance of our internal nutritionist.”
Jan Chozen Bays
What are the benefits of Mindful Eating?
This practice aids in weight loss as you will more than likely eat less. Utilize the hunger scale suggestions to finally make overeating a thing of the past. You will be sick less and less, sleep better, lose weight naturally, improve memory, have more energy no matter your age and become more joy-filled, relaxed and free.
I took this practice seriously just as I did when I began the discipline of meditation. After all I meditated regularly for years before it became a pleasant and essential part of my day. I began by sitting down to my meal rather than eating while distracted. I ate with gratitude, smelling, tasting, experiencing the textures. I began to enjoy every bite and quit eating the foods that tasted bad when eaten slowly, specifically chemical laden foods. I felt better and lost weight slowly and surely. I no longer fear food but rather breathe into my meals with reverence and appreciation.
1 – Starved.
You don’t care what or how much you eat. You may experience a feeling of panic or voraciousness.
Try It: Check in with yourself between meals. Notice when you start feeling weak or light headed.
2 – Very hungry!
You notice that you seem unfocused and very irritable.
Try It: Check inside in between meals. Are you having trouble concentrating or being short with others?
3 – Hungry.
You may feel a physical sense of hunger. The stomach may be growling or rumbling asking for fuel. Consider drinking a glass of water. This is the perfect time to enjoy your meal mindfully.
Try It: When do you notice the first sign of hunger. How is it felt physically in your stomach?
4 – Slightly hungry.
This may be almost imperceptible. Check in with the subtle physical cues – you are moving toward either level 3 hungry or level 5 not hungry.
5 – Not hungry.
The space between hunger and not yet satisfied. Often this happens around the 3rd or 4th bite of your meal.
Try It: Breathe between bites deeply. Focus on chewing at least 30 times. Do you notice a slight reduction in hunger yet not feeling completely satisfied.
6 – Satisfied with the meal.
This is an ahh yes feeling. It’s like hitting the button that says thank you, a perfect time to stop.
7 – A feeling of fullness.
At this point, when you’re eating slowly, you breathe in between bites slowly and notice your stomach is starting to feel full.
Try it: Stop for a moment and put your utensil down. Breathe and check inside to see if you need another bite or not.
8 – Slightly too full.
You begin to feel uncomfortable. Sometimes you’ll push through because there is more on your plate.
Try it: Put your fork down again. Push your plate away. Ask yourself if you could toss the remainder. Make a choice here. You’ll feel better for it.
9 – Too full.
This is where you couldn’t eat another bite. We miss this when we inhale our food because we began at level 1 or 2. What’s the solution. Upgrade your protein and healthy fat choices in your meals along with plenty of veggies and a smaller portion of starchy veggies or whole grain.
Secondly, you may wish to have a healthy snack if you have to go without a meal for 5 hours or more during the day.
10 – Stuffed.
You feel sick and head for the couch. You are bloated, uncomfortable and want to sleep.