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Mindful Eating as A Part Of your Self Care: 4 Steps to Get Started

Mindful Eating as a part of your Self Care

As a certified holistic health and life coach and culinary nutrition educator. Today, I’m excited to share a guide on mindful eating that will help you with weight loss and digestion through easy-to-implement tips. Let’s dive in!


Understanding Portion Sizes and Eating Slowly

One significant change in the US over the past 50 years is our serving sizes. They have steadily increased to double what they used to be, sometimes even more. When we eat out, we usually have enough for two meals, and many of us eat these meals in one sitting. Even our plate sizes have increased, so when we eat at home, we sometimes fill our plates just because they are larger. I’ve noticed that my grandmother's china has what look like miniature plates compared to today's standards.

Additionally, we tend to eat very quickly due to our busy lives. Even when we have the time, the habit of rushing persists, leading us to take big bites and not chew our food enough. Chewing is the first step of our digestive process, and insufficient chewing can negatively affect our digestion, causing bloating, cramps, or gas.

Benefits of Mindful Eating:

  • Better digestion
  • Improved nutrient absorption
  • Better weight control
  • Reduced gas, bloating, and stomach issues
  • Greater enjoyment of meals

Action Steps:

  1. Use Smaller Plates: Try using smaller plates for smaller serving sizes. I use my salad plates, and it really works.
  2. Take Smaller Bites: Consciously take smaller bites. It might feel strange at first, but it helps.
  3. Chew Your Food Well: Try counting to 25 chews before swallowing. This helps with digestion and nutrient absorption.
  4. Eat Slower: Put your fork down between bites. Enjoy the flavor of the food and remember, you’re eating not just to enjoy the food but also to nourish your body.

When you start being more mindful about your eating habits, you automatically start to care more about how you're nourishing yourself. You start eating better just because you become more aware. How cool is that?


Eating Only When Hungry and Avoiding Overfilling

Next, let’s focus on only eating when you're hungry and not overfilling yourself.

Start by paying attention to how your body feels when you're hungry and figuring out what your body needs. Ask yourself:

  • Is my stomach growling?
  • How long has it been since I last ate?
  • What does my body need right now?
  • Am I just thirsty?

If you’ve just eaten, you might be thirsty, which can feel like hunger, or your last meal might not have been nutritionally dense. Try drinking a glass of water first. If you still feel hungry after 20 minutes, try a healthier, more nutritionally dense snack.

Benefits of Eating Only When Hungry:

  • Better digestion
  • Avoiding unnecessary calorie intake
  • Improved awareness of your body's needs

Action Steps:

  1. Tune Into Your Hunger: Pay attention to when you're actually hungry and what your body needs. Keep a food journal of how you feel when you’re hungry and what your body needed.
  2. Practice Hara Hachi Bu: Only eat until you're 80% full. This Japanese practice helps you eat until the hungry feeling is satisfied, not until you're full.

Energy, Senses, and Social Mindful Eating

Now, let’s cover how to prepare yourself energetically for a meal, using your senses, and making meals a social and enjoyable event.

Pre-Meal Energy Preparation:

  1. Take Deep Breaths: This helps you shift from a fight-or-flight state to a rest-and-digest state.
  2. Sit Down to Eat: Avoid eating over the sink or while multitasking. Make your eating experience special whenever you can.

Using Your Senses:

  • Pay attention to what your food looks like, smells like, tastes like, and feels like.
  • Notice how the food makes you feel after eating it—energized, tired, full, or satisfied.

Creating a Special Meal Environment:

  • Use nice dishes, napkins, and even candles.
  • Put on relaxing music and turn off the TV.

Action Steps:

  1. Calm Before Eating: Take deep breaths to get into a calm state before meals.
  2. Sit Down: Sit down while eating and use your senses to fully experience your meal.
  3. Create a Ritual: Make your meals beautiful to create a relaxing ritual.
  4. Social Eating: Share your meals with friends and family whenever possible.

Focusing on Real Food and Gratitude

In our final section, let's focus on the basics of eating real food and practicing gratitude.

Keys to Healthy Eating:

  1. Eat Real Food: Choose foods without ingredient lists, like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. If a food has an ingredient list, make sure all ingredients are real food.
  2. Eat Organic: Try to eat as much organic food as possible.
  3. Don’t Overeat: Eat in a relaxed state and only until you're 80% full.
  4. Be Grateful: Practice gratitude for your food and the nourishment it provides.

Action Steps:

  1. Choose Real Food: Eat food that is as close to its natural state as possible.
  2. Relax and Enjoy: Eat in a relaxed state and enjoy your food.
  3. Practice Gratitude: Be grateful for your food and how it nourishes your body.
  4. Pay Attention: Notice how different foods make you feel and choose those that give you good energy and health.
  5. Seasonal Eating: Eat what's in season where you live for the best nutritional value.
  6. Grow Your Own Food: If possible, grow some of your own food.
  7. Fuel Your Body: Eat to support your health and well-being.

The Essence of Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is truly about tuning into your body, understanding how it feels, and recognizing how it responds to what you eat. By becoming more aware of your eating habits, you can transform your relationship with food and experience a multitude of benefits:

Here Are Some of The Benefits of Mindful Eating:

  • Better Digestion: Improved chewing and slower eating enhance digestive efficiency.
  • Enhanced Nutrient Absorption: Mindful eating allows your body to better absorb nutrients.
  • Weight Control: By eating only when hungry and stopping when 80% full, you naturally manage portion sizes.
  • Reduced Digestive Issues: Mindful eating practices help alleviate gas, bloating, and other stomach problems.
  • Increased Enjoyment of Food: Taking time to savor your meals enhances your overall eating experience.
  • Improved Awareness: You become more conscious of how food affects your body and mood.
  • Better Health Choices: As you tune into your body, you naturally gravitate towards healthier food options.

Keep practicing these steps, and soon they will become automatic habits that support your health and well-being. Consider keeping a journal for a few months to track the changes you experience from making mindful eating a habit.

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Talk soon!

Xo, T

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