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Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is eating that fully engages our senses and attention--the exact opposite of the way most of us eat. Because so many of us feel rushed to accomplish the tasks of the day, eating is something that we often do while we're on the run--in the car, on the way to class, while we're reading or surfing the internet. However, eating in this manner increases the likelihood of weight gain, since we are not fully able to notice when we are full, and reduces the likelihood that we will enjoy our food and the act of nourishing our bodies. Thus, whether you are trying to lose weight, take more pleasure in your meals, or simply prevent indigestion, you may want to practice some of the following tips on mindful eating.

• Set aside time for eating:  sitting down, at a table, with minimal distractions (no TV, cell phones, computers, etc.).

• Give yourself permission to enjoy the foods on your forbidden list. Allow yourself to have a treat once a day and enjoy the experience of eating it and you will be more likely to limit yourself to a reasonable portion size.

• Pay attention to what kind of food you are hungry for, what your body is telling you that you need.

• Put your food on a plate so that you can better appreciate the sight and aroma of what you are eating. Take time to notice how it looks, tastes, what the texture of the food is like.

• Take a moment to be thankful for having the opportunity to eat and nourish your body.

• Eat slowly. Between bites, put your silverware down to help you pace yourself.

• Pay close attention to the experience of eating: How does it taste? What feelings are you experiencing? What bodily sensations do you notice? What kinds of thoughts go through your mind?

• If you find yourself experiencing negative thoughts or feelings about eating (e.g., this is going to make me fat, I can't believe how out of control I am), try to replace these thoughts with positive ones (I am learning to enjoy food, I need food to nourish myself).

• Notice when you no longer feel hungry and stop eating. Do not feel obligated to clean your plate or eat past the point of enjoyment just because the food is in front of you.

• Focus on your own plate. What the person sitting across from you has on their plate may not be what's right for you. Eat according to your own needs.

Suggested Reading:
Eating Mindfully by Susan Albers