Mindful eating is all about paying attention to the way we eat. Research shows eating mindfully improves digestion and regulates our appetite.
As Americans, we enjoy an abundance of food. We want for nothing. Unfortunately, because of this, many of us have developed poor eating habits.
In fact, in the United States, over 70% of adults over 20 are considered overweight. Over half of the Americans who make up that statistic are obese.
The question is, how do we fix it?
While most people will tell you it’s all about exercise, it’s a slightly misleading answer. Exercise is important. However, the best fitness and weight loss coaches will tell you that most of the battle occurs in the kitchen.
It’s all about mindful eating exercises.
What you put in your mouth is much more impactful than what you do at the gym when it comes to weight loss.
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Why Mindful Eating is Important
Mindful eating exercises help us learn the difference between healthy and unhealthy eating habits.
Most people in this society don’t know the difference. They think large portions of meat and rice and low portions of vegetables are acceptable. They mindlessly eat snacks while watching TV and rush through meals at lunch.
Mindful eating exercises will chip away at poor eating habits starting you on a path of a healthier, happier, and fitter version of yourself.
Following these 7 exercises can help you change your entire relationship with food, and perhaps the scale.
Mindful Eating Exercises
While it’s true that most weight loss happens in the kitchen, it should be noted that exercise is still important. Exercise builds lean muscle, help joints and bones stay strong, and improves cardiovascular and lung strength.
However, without mindful eating exercises, all of your time spent working out will be in vain. Learn how and when to eat for maximum performance and results.
1. Don’t Eat While Distracted
One of the top contributors to overeating is entertainment. Eating while distracted by devices such as TV, movies, games, phones, and computers can lead to an over-indulgence in calories.
If you have a healthy, pre-portioned meal in front of you, watching TV won’t do much harm as far as calories are concerned. However, we often under-chew our food and eat too fast while we’re distracted, which can lead to poor and uncomfortable digestion and the sensation of still being hungry.
2. Sit Down and Take Your Time
As mentioned above, eating too fast can have negative side effects on our digestive system. It can lead to an upset stomach and over-consumption of food.
If we don’t portion out our meals or are snacking, eating too quickly will trick us into thinking we’re still hungry, as our food won’t have time to settle.
Next time you eat, especially if you haven’t portioned out your food, sit down and take your time. Chew slowly and thoroughly.
It also helps to set your fork or spoon down between bites. This prevents us from mindlessly shoveling in more food as were chewing the previous bite.
3. Have an Eating Schedule
It may sound like overkill, but we can all use a little more structure in our lives, especially when it comes to our diet and eating habits.
Implementing simple mindful eating exercises, such as creating a schedule for your meals and snacks, can help you keep a reign over unnecessary eating. It’s entirely too easy to eat while we’re bored, emotional, or even happy.
An eating schedule is a great way to implement some order into your diet.
4. Evaluate Why You’re Eating
If sticking to an eating schedule isn’t realistic due to your job or the busyness of everyday life, instead, create a system of evaluation for each meal.
Assess why you’re eating and if it’s necessary or not. Obviously, getting all your meals each day is necessary. However, stopping by the vending machine for chips and soda in the middle of the afternoon isn’t.
Are you eating because you’re bored, tired, frustrated, etc.?
It’s not uncommon to be hungry between meals, but soda and chips are not the answer.
5. Think About the Quality of Your Food
This leads us to one of our most valuable mindful eating exercises. Evaluate the quality of your food before you eat it. However, we’re speaking about more than just fresh vs. expired.
The quality of food we’re referring to is whether or not it’s actually good for your health. Getting in three meals a day of fast food does not make for a quality diet, but neither does skipping meals.
Focus on healthy, whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, nuts, and seeds. These types of foods are nutrient dense and free of preservatives and chemicals that are harmful to your health and waistline!
6. Shop with a List
It’s easier to abstain from bad foods if they’re not in your house. This is perhaps one of the simplest of all mindful eating exercises. Keep bad unhealthy food out of sight and out of mind.
When you go shopping, don’t rely on intuition. Intuition is what got your pantry packed full of potato chips and cookies. Instead, make a list based on what your meal plan is for the week.
Once you get the store, stick to the list, no impulse buys!
This will help you save money, avoid garbage foods, and keep off the extra pounds.
7. Manage Your Portions
Finally, one of the most obvious mindful eating exercises deals with managing your portions to prevent overeating. However, we’re referring both to the overall amount of food per meal, as well as the amount of each type of food.
For example, only in America is our meat serving larger than our carb and vegetable servings. Take a lesson from other (thinner) cultures and turn the tables.
Divide your plate into quarters. Two-quarters (half) of your plate should be veggies. One-quarter should be lean protein, and one-quarter should be carbohydrates.
Sorry, but if you can help it, abstain from dessert. If you choose to have dessert, keep it conservative, such as a single cookie, a half-cup of ice cream, etc.
You Can Do This
Food is addictive. It’s not your fault you like to eat good-tasting food. Nor is it your fault good-tasting food is bad for you.
However, now you know what you can do to take back control. Use these mindful eating exercises to reverse the negative effects of poor habits.
It’s never too late to start, but there’s no point in waiting until tomorrow.
Start today! You can do this!