In my previous post about becoming grateful for food and my body I talked about a few gratitude practices that have guided me. Practices like journaling – daily affirmations – education – and self awareness. Alongside gratitude practices comes mindfulness. They go hand in hand.
Being mindful in many daily practices is a huge player when it come to fully living a life of gratitude. Something as simple as walking can be done mindfully. The benefits of this practice are really astronomical – and today I’d love to begin to share some mindfulness practices with you.
To kick off a series of practices I’d like to begin with food. Eating. Mindfully Eating.
To begin – what does mindfulness even mean?
Mindfulness: the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
FREE Mindfulness Guide
The relationship each of us has with food is very important in our day to day lives. So important that it’s one of the key things besides water and oxygen that we need to survive. The beauty of this relationship is that for every one of us it is different – no two people will be the same.
However, on the not so beautiful side of things – for a lot of us our relationship with food is not necessarily one that is healthy. Some of us may let our emotions dictate when we do (or don’t) eat – others may feel ashamed when they eat a cookie or a slice of pizza – some may always be trying the newest diet trend – others will only eat junk food in private in fear of being judged by family & friends.
Sound like you? Me too.
For those of you that have or have had relationships like the ones I just listed with food I have good news for you – there is hope!
Creating A Good Relationship
First things first – we need to create the best relationship with food for ourselves. It doesn’t matter if it involves eating pizza or that donut once or twice a week. What matters is the thoughts surrounding eating the foods we like to indulge on every once in a while.
Here are a few things you can do to rewire this relationship:
Have gratitude for your food.
- As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, gratitude and mindfulness go hand in hand – and being grateful for the food that nourishes our body is a huge part of that. Before taking that first bite of a meal stop and think about how the food got on your plate. Think about how lucky you are to have access to it. Be grateful for the fuel it is providing your body.
Enjoy your food.
- Refuse to let yourself cloud your mind with negative thoughts while eating. Push away the “I shouldn’t be eating this” and the “I failed to control myself yet again.” It is OK to treat yourself every once in a while – and if you fell off the wagon…that is also OK because you know what you need to do to get back on track.
Stop punishing yourself for what you ate yesterday.
- Going along with number 2, keep those thoughts away! As soon as you let the negative chatter enter your brain it begins to have an effect on your body. Creating stress and impacting your overall health in a negative way.
Release the need to “eat perfectly.”
- Literally NO ONE eats perfectly. We all indulge a little or have a cheat day/meal or two. What you see on Instagram is not real life. It is a highlight real. So if you want that whole sleeve of Oreos – I say go for it! Just don’t make it a habit.
Reaching for food when you’re not hungry.
- If you find yourself reaching for food when you’re not hungry – this is a sign that something emotional is going on. Whether you realize it or not it’s happening. So stop yourself mid reach and think about what this could be. What’s going on? Identify where this emotional reach is coming from and move on with your life. Do something besides eating and see this new habit form and change your life.
Turn Your Relationship Into A Mindful Relationship
Part of Mindfully Eating is what one would typically think it is. Sit – chew – breathe with the food you eat. Use your senses to appreciate the food that is on your plate. This will signal your brain in a way that will cause you to overeat a lot less.
I’d say this is the poster child of eating mindfully.
With that being said – there are many other ways to bring mindfulness into eating that do more for you than just being the poster child. Don’t get me wrong though – becoming the poster child is a huge step towards Mindfully Eating and we really should be using our senses fully each time we sit down to eat.
Swear by eating everything in moderation – educate yourself on the nutritional value of the foods you put in your body – know the right timing of when to eat that is most beneficial to your health.
Eat when you’re physically hungry (most times you are actually just thirsty) – eat breakfast – stop eating when you are comfortable NOT when you’re over full.
Get rid of problematic foods – don’t sit down with the whole bag – know the difference between a snack and a treat – don’t be afraid of being hungry.
Eat before grocery shopping – meal plan for the week – let yourself indulge every so often.
Don’t label specific foods as bad – keep a food journal – cook instead of eating out.
Making up for a meal is not a thing – don’t let your concern for food interfere with your daily life – and do not eat to see the scale move.
Mindfully Eating is not a hard task to bring into your life. I can guarantee that you at are already doing at least one or two of these things. Without even knowing it you’ve been eating mindfully. Now that you’re aware of some other tools that you can use to become mindful – implement them.
Becoming mindful in eating or any practice is easy – and best of all, it doesn’t cost a thing!