Mindless eating has become an epidemic in our fast-paced culture. We eat while we drive, we snap-chat from the toilet.  We’re multi-taskers and we’re not so great at doing just one thing at a time with consciousness and mindfulness. It explains why wasabi mayo ended up gumming up my keyboard! Apart from saving your electronics, mindful eating is one of the simplest things we can do to support weight loss.

For many people, mindless eating also means fast eating…. and fast eating often means eating more than we should because, in our haste, we miss important hunger and fullness signals.

If you’re looking to lose weight, the solution may be to slow down and tune in.  Turn off the television, shut down Facebook, close the latest news headlines and….. just eat. Give yourself the time and space to focus on your meal and eat at a reasonable pace. Channel your inner-latin-lover and get sensual with your food. Chew slowly, sniff and savour your food……mmmmmm….. delicious!

When we slow down and savour our food, we naturally cultivate greater appetite awareness. You remember Appetite Awareness 101 – that class that you took in school that taught you all about your personal physiological hunger and fullness cues? Hmmmm…. that’s funny……neither do I.  

As adults most of us aren’t educated about appetite awareness. Very few of us begin eating when we’re truly hungry and stop when we’re satisfied. Instead most of us eat according to social norms.  We eat because the clock says it’s time to eat, or when someone’s birthday tells us it’s time to eat cake, or when we’re bored or when we see that advertisement for that latest connoisseur ice-cream and – darn, now I want something sweet and creamy.

Yet this habit of tuning in to satiety is a trait of naturally lean people. When we eat mindfully, we are able to pay attention to both physiological hunger and fullness cues and our body naturally regulates our intake and energy balance.

Although mindful eating is correlated with a healthy body weight, it’s not a diet and it’s not about going without.  In fact, the opposite is true. In a time when so many of us have an adversarial relationship with food, mindful eating affords us the opportunity to make friends with food again, to give it our full attention, to appreciate it and to derive great pleasure from it.

In the 365 Nutrition Coaching program, we ask people to experiment with elements of mindful eating. We have received comments ranging from, ”I ate so much less” through to “I never noticed how sweet cucumber is” and “raisins make noises when you squeeze them!”.

So this week, I invite you to experiment with ways to bring awareness and enjoyment to your eating experience. Here’s are some tips to get you started….

The Mindful Eating Experiment

  1. Shut down other distractions and focus only on eating
  2. Notice what you’re feeling –are you hungry or full? Are you noticing any other feelings or sensations? Just observe without judging.
  3. Look at your food, it’s colours, size and shapes – the arrangement of food on your plate
  4. Where did it come from? Who were all the people and what were all the resources involved in getting that meal or bit of food to your plate?
  5. Smell your food
  6. Feel your food in your hands (if appropriate), feel its weight, feel it’s textures.  You can even try using your non-dominant hand to eat.
  7. Bring it to your ear, does it have a sound? What about if you squeeze it?
  8. Taste your food – put it in your mouth and notice your body’s response just for a moment – track the flavours on the different edges of your palate – what do you notice? Does it taste the same as it smells?
  9. Put your knife and fork down and chew your food slowly – notice the movements of your tongue, your teeth, etc. Again notice the texture of the food change.
  10. Swallow the food and track it moving through your body. Are there any flavours or sensations lingering in your mouth?
  11. Check in with your hunger cues throughout the meal and when you’re 80% full, push your plate away and really enjoy that perfect level of satisfaction.