Last week, I shared what mindful and intuitive eating is, how it’s defined and why it’s something we should incorporate into our lives. This week we are going to take it a step further as I share with you HOW you can become a more mindful and intuitive eater and make this part of your daily routine and practice.
Let’s first clear up any potential confusion on the difference between the two and how they compliment each other:
Mindful Eating vs Intuitive Eating
Many people hear these terms together and sometimes interchangeably. They are different but they do complement each other.
Both involve paying more attention to what and how we eat. However, intuitive eating is more of a response to unhealthy trends and fad diets, while mindful eating is more of a lifestyle change that accompanies greater overall mindfulness.
Here is how you can practice more mindful eating:
Did you know that it takes 20 minutes for our stomach to connect to our brain and ‘say’ that it is full? Most of us eat in seven minutes or less, so it’s no wonder we are overeating. Bottom line – eat slowly and enjoy your food bite by bite. Here are some more tips to help you achieve this goal:
- Sit down to eat.
- Switch off the TV and your phone as they can be quite distracting and promote mindless eating.
- Set down your fork in between bites to help slow down your eating rate.
- Chew each bite 25 times- this will help you fully enjoy the flavour and get more satisfaction, thus you don’t need to eat so much because it’s “so yummy!”
Learn your body’s hunger cues and emotional hunger triggers
Tune into your body. Ask yourself why you are eating. Are you hungry, stressed, upset, happy, lonely or bored? Is your body low on energy? Do you have a headache, is your stomach rumbling, do you feel light-headed? Too often we eat with what our mind tells us rather than our body.
Ask yourself: What are your body’s hunger signals, and what are your emotional hunger triggers?
Eat at consistent times and places
Have a good schedule and regular routine. Sit down eat out of a bowl, not a box. Eat with people and truly enjoy the meal; this will also help you slow down your eating.
Have a mindful kitchen
Keep your kitchen clean and organized. Provide encouragement for healthy eating and nourishing gatherings. It is a welcoming environment and space? What is the vibe and energy in your kitchen? Do you have a variety of healthy foods…what foods are in sight? Is it candy bars or fresh fruits?
Know your motivations for eating
Are you eating for emotional comfort or to nourish your body? Aim for both!
As we practice eating healthier and a greater variety of food, we are less inclined to binge on our comfort foods, and more likely to enjoy healthy foods. Ultimately, we’ll find more foods mentally and physically satisfying as opposed to just a few.
Connect more deeply with your food
While you are eating your food, ponder upon where your food came from, where it was grown and how it was grown. How did it get to the supermarket or open-air market where you purchased it and how did it become the meal you are eating?
As you consider these answers, you become more mindful of the entire process of your food from seed to mouth and through that experience, we begin to make more informed choices about sustainability and health of our food and the greater impact it has on others and our earth.
Attend to your plate
Don’t try to multitask when eating. It disconnects you from your body and is the opposite of mindful eating
Now on to Intuitive Eating. Here are some ways to really put this into practice.
Reject diet culture
Start reading more about the intuitive eating philosophy and health at every size. Don’t mistake being skinny as healthy. There is more that goes into good health than just a number on a scale and your BMI.
Start Using the Hunger-Fullness Scale
The hunger-fullness scale is a useful tool to help you begin to pay more attention to variations in hunger levels. We shouldn’t eat to be full but rather satisfied and no longer hungry. Check in with yourself before a meal or snack, partway through eating, and as you finish eating. It can be helpful to keep a journal and track your feelings of hunger and fullness so that you start to be more conscious of how your body is feeling. I will share a hunger scale worksheet later this month!
Ask Yourself What It Is You WANT To Eat
By allowing yourself to eat whatever you want, you stop your cravings and decrease overeating and feelings of guilt for binging due to restrictions. As your body learns to trust that it has access to any and all foods, cravings and overeating decrease. SERIOUSLY!
Personal story, I went out for lunch the other day and I couldn’t get my mind off of a brownie and ice cream, so guess what I did. I ate it! And it totally satisfied that craving and I have been eating very nutritious and wholesome foods since then. Remember, it’s not what we do in one day or at one meal. It’s our pattern of eating over time. If you’re unsatisfied, you’ll probably keep looking for that one thing that is going to make you feel satisfied and content and you’re likely to overeat. When you eat what you really want, the feelings of satisfaction and pleasure you feel will help you be content (and often with less food).
Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is about being conscious about what you are eating, why you are eating, and how you are eating. It involves getting back in touch with the experience of eating and enjoying your food. It’s about being fully present during meals and snacks, paying attention to the sight, smell, taste and texture of foods. Try slowing down your eating speed and eat without distractions. Next week’s blog will be a mindful eating activity. Stay tuned!
Bring Awareness to Your Internal Food Police.
The Food Police are the thoughts in your head that monitor everything you eat or think about eating. They are the unreasonable food rules that you’ve developed over years of hearing diet talk. Many of them may be very subconscious to you and you may not be fully aware of how they impact your eating.
Challenge yourself to be more mindful of these voices; the voices that tell us carb free is “good” and pasta is “bad.” Or that we should feel guilty for enjoying that slice of birthday cake. Once you change this narrative, you will have so much more peace around ALL foods and truly have a healthy and positive relationship with all foods-which is the goal!
Here are some great books you can read to begin your intuitive and mindful eating journey.
- Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works by Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch
- Body Kindness by Rebecca Scritchfield
- Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon
You can also follow people with body positive and anti-diet social media accounts.
- Kylie Mitchell
- Robyn Nohling
- Kara Lydon
- Christy Harrison
- Rachael Hartley
- Alexis Joseph
- Haley Goodrich
- Paige Smathers
- Marci Evans
- The Wellful
Read blogs and listen to podcasts that promote anti-diet culture:
- The Real Life RD blog
- Rachael Hartley Nutrition blog
- The Foodie Dietitian blog
- ImmaEatThat blog
- Food Psych Podcast
- The Mindful Dietitian Podcast
- Nutrition Matters Podcast
- The Nurtured Mama Podcast
- Love Food Podcast
I hope you have learned about how to have a more healthy, balanced and positive relationship with your food through this blog.