The act of mindfulness is defined as: “active attention on the present”. Mindfulness is commonly associated with meditation and yoga, but is a great tool for any aspect of life. A few areas that can benefit greatly from mindfulness are weight loss and dietary habits.
The Basics of Mindfulness
In order to practice mindfulness, you must become familiar with what mindfulness is and how to achieve it.
People might be familiar with this technique and have used it throughout their lives for stress or grief. If you are one of those people, now is the time to consider using those same methods and focusing them on a different area of your life.
A Simple Mindfulness Exercise
Before you choose a specific issue to work on, set aside some time to practice general mindfulness.
Spend 5-10 minutes working on the following exercise:
- Find a quiet room or area where you are comfortable
- Sit or lay down and begin to draw your thoughts in to the present moment
- Close your eyes if it helps
- Become aware of your breathing, your heartbeat, and your body right where it is
- Focus all of your attention on that present moment and how you are feeling
- Become aware of how you are not multitasking or distracted by anything except your thoughts.
Once you feel like you have successfully practiced mindfulness, you should feel fairly confident in channeling it elsewhere. Whether you want to break bad eating habits, or put a stop to your overeating once and for all, you can use mindfulness to your advantage.
The following tricks and tips will aid you along your way to becoming a mindful eater!
Tips to Incorporate Mindfulness with Dieting
The next time you have a meal, make it a point to only eat the meal. Do not turn the TV on or scroll through your phone. Enjoy the food you are eating.
If you are eating something you love – chocolate, ice cream, cupcakes – especially if you don’t normally eat these treats, take the time to savor them. Despite your excitement, you will enjoy your treat significantly more if you slow down and take the time to savor it.
Keep your work and your snacks separate. Try not to snack while at your computer or your desk because you will likely overeat without noticing.
Make portioned snacks and meals ahead of time so that you can keep track of how much you are eating.
Don’t absent mindedly drink your coffee or tea. If you patiently waited in line at your favorite coffee shop for a specific drink, take the time to enjoy those first few sips and savor the flavors.
When attending parties with appetizers and finger foods, take a step back and think about what you actually want to eat instead of mindlessly snacking throughout the night and overeating.
Find your personal level of fullness. You never want to feel uncomfortably full after eating, so make it a point to take notice when your hunger begins to subside and learn to stop eating at that point.
While practicing mindful eating, you might notice that some foods are not as enjoyable or satisfying as you previously thought.
If you are an emotional eater, use mindfulness to become aware of your emotions and your physical needs before you turn to food.
Set a timer for 15-20 minutes and take the entire time to sit down and eat a meal.
If you find yourself snacking too much throughout the day, stop and ask yourself if you are truly hungry, or just bored. Try to redirect your mind to a new task such as reading, walking, or talking to a friend.
After you have finished eating, take the time to notice that you are full or satisfied before grabbing seconds.
Combine these tips with the daily mindfulness exercise and you’ll become much more aware of when, where, what and who triggers the emotional patterns which make you turn to food. With greater awareness of these triggers you also gain greater control and the ability to choose how you respond to these triggers. Try it; you may be surprised by what you discover!