Here at the LivingNotes network, we are not Doctors or medical experts. All content is derived from subjective standpoints and/or experience. This article addresses issues such as eating disorders and other dietary challenges.
Being faced with food and diet challenges is all too common for each and every one of us. It can be a struggle to create balance, structure, and routine. The importance of eating is often overlooked, and either avoided or rushed through to move onto the next thing. However, this can create distress that we aren’t even aware of, both physically and emotionally. By implementing mindful eating along with the principle of mindfulness into our lives, our relationship with food is more likely to improve.
If you’ve ever reached for a snack due to the feeling of bored-ness or unnecessary cravings, mindful eating can reform your control over food. On the flip side, if you under eat when stress hits, mindfulness can help tie together your mental health with dietary actions, so you can gain more control over your health.
What is mindful eating?
Mindfulness is the act of fixating on the present moment, while taking in and processing your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations. The same concepts can be applied to mindful eating, which is intended to improve your overall enjoyment and eating experience. Mindful eating is practiced by focusing on and absorbing the energy, movement, and feeling of your food. It also can help form a healthier mindset on what you eat and how your diet affects you. Mindful eating can be applied to any food choice, although it tends to emphasize a more balanced, healthful diet, to ensure that you feel your strongest both mentally and physically. Mindful eating means being fully aware and present to your food throughout the entire process of buying, preparing, and consuming.
Mindful eating is not a fad diet; in fact, it’s not a diet at all. Mindful eating does not include radical cleanses, restricting food groups or items, fasting, juicing, or anything relevant. This practice can be applied to anything, even pizza and fries. However, experts who vouch for mindful eating tend to recommend natural foods that are more replenishing to the body, such as green veggies, oils, fruits, and tons of water – although this doesn’t have anything to do with weight loss contrary to what one might think. Consuming foods that are rich in nutrients, are vitamin packed, and hydrating, all boost the benefits of mindful eating.
Mindful eating encourages us to be fully present while eating and preparing food, which allows us to authentically enjoy and savor our food in a healthy way.
Benefits of mindful eating
Mindful eating can serve many purposes when it comes to building and strengthening our relationship with food. The practice is especially useful for those struggling with disordered eating, weight gain/loss issues, or just any overall health and wellness challenges. Mindful eating helps us to truly enjoy what we’re eating, which can make us feel more fulfilled, satisfied, and ready to take on the day. Other benefits of mindful eating include:
Increased awareness of hunger and fullness
Part of the mindful eating process is monitoring your feeling of fullness and hunger. This helps prevent the issue of overeating and undereating, and promotes the concept of listening to your body and what it needs.
Weight loss/weight maintenance
Mindful eating promotes weight loss as well as stable maintenance/balance, by encouraging awareness behind overall consumption and feeling of satisfaction.
Stress reduction and mindfulness go hand-in-hand, as many feel the practice puts their mind at ease.
Mindful eating promotes better digestion by encouraging slower bites and chewing, rather than a quick moving meal.
Increased satisfaction with food and eating
After integrating mindful eating into your daily routine, you may notice yourself enjoying food more and looking forward to each meal. This includes purchasing, preparing, and consuming – the entire process.
How to practice mindful eating, along with tips and tricks
No matter what your lifestyle looks like, there are techniques to kickstart your mindful eating routine. First off, make sure to set aside any work while you enjoy a meal or snack. For example, if you work in an office or from home, close your laptop or put your computer to sleep, find a place for any other additional supplies, and simply just relax and focus on your food. Reserve 20-30 minutes for each meal, as this gives you enough leisure time to enjoy the process without rushing through it. Savoring each bite you take and appreciating the items you’re putting in your body can help curb future cravings, and improves the post-meal mood. Be sure to monitor your mental and physical sensations before and after each meal or snack, and pay attention to the feelings of fullness and hunger. Try eating alone at first, or in a quiet space, especially if you’re new to the practice.
Mindful eating and eating disorders
Eating disorders are a complex topic, and no certain disordered way of eating is comparative to another. Some people struggle with disordered eating without even realizing it, while others are more deeply consumed in the issue. Mindful eating can help improve disordered eating and negative thoughts by staying more in tune with the emotional aspect of the process.
How to practice mindful eating while traveling or on the road
If you want to keep mindful eating up while traveling, don’t stress! This extremely beneficial act is possible no matter where you go.
First off, try to avoid eating while driving if possible, but if it’s absolutely necessary, bring your full attention into each bite and be aware of your body’s sensations. Limit the act of eating out for multiple meals a day, as the busy environment can disrupt mental focus. If possible, choose an area such as a quiet outdoor spot or lodging room to eat. Make sure to keep resources with you such as a journal or meditation app.
Traveling can actually be a perfect way to integrate mindful eating into your life, as a new environment can often be turned into a peaceful retreat that’s suitable for various mental health related activities.
The bottom line
Mindful eating is a hugely beneficial tool when it comes to overall health and wellness. Once you start incorporating mindful eating into your daily routine, you’ll probably notice that you feel more satisfied, energized, and uplifted. In addition to all of the physical and mental benefits, you may also become inspired to pick up some other wellness habits.
Food and wellness journals are a great way to keep track of your physical and emotional sensations. These aesthetically pleasing notebooks allow you to take notes about your fitness routine, daily habits, meals and snacks, and how you feel about it all. Since it can be a little overwhelming to start a new practice and fix habits, food and wellness journals help you to stay more organized.
Simple, modern, and fun to use – Kunitsa’s food and wellness journal does it all. A roomy layout on each page allows for note taking, tracking, and monitoring goals. Comes in a range of pastel colors that look great anywhere.
This food journal from Clever Fox is equipped with all the tools you need to reach your wellness goals. With 15 color choices and 109 stickers, you can tailor it to fit your unique personality. Record your daily accomplishments, affirmations, and habits.
This wellness journal includes features like a wellness map and daily overview pages to track sleep habits, water intake, meals, self-care, and more. It’s also designed with a winsome aesthetic, and offers a cover personalization choice.
Food and wellness journal tips
-try to write each day, even if it’s just a small amount
Set aside time every day to record your thoughts and daily habits. If you do well with a structured routine, pick the same time each day, such as 8PM (after the day is done), and make it your journal time. If your days are a little unpredictable, take notes throughout the day. Whether it’s a few short sentences or three pages, make it a point to write something each day.
-weekly or monthly goals
Goals are a fantastic way to utilize a wellness journal. Goals vary and are dependent on you and your lifestyle factors. Choosing goals and figuring out a way to achieve them can feel overwhelming at times, and it’s common to become discouraged when they don’t work out. However, a wellness journal can help you figure out small steps to reaching your short term or long term goals, and track your progress along the way. Try starting small with a weekly goal, something as simple as “go on a short walk every day” to larger scale monthly goals.
-don’t overwhelm yourself, a wellness journal is meant to be relaxing and efficient
Let your journal time be a form of self care. Do a face mask, put on some music, or whatever makes you feel at ease while you record your thoughts.
-use spaces and sections that are provided, but don’t feel obligated to use them all
Most wellness and food journals are equipped with sections that help you monitor daily intake, fitness routine, sleep habits, thoughts and emotions, and more. Even if you feel like these don’t all apply to you, take small notes about each habit and how it affects your day. Chances are, you may discover some surprise barriers along the way.
Apps – meditation and mindfulness
The Mindfulness App is a great app for those of all experience when it comes to mindfulness and eating. Its main purpose is to teach you how to practice mindfulness and integrate the concept into your everyday life. Guided and timed meditations are provided, with the addition of customized sessions.
The Headspace app includes tons of themed meditation sessions for every occasion or need. This user-friendly app is both beneficial and educational, as well as suitable for beginners and experts.
Calm is one of best meditation and anxiety-ridding apps out there. It gets straight to the point and provides guided meditations for self-improvement, sleep quality, and any other barrier with your mental health.