MindfulEating_3Have you ever looked forward to a treat like an ice cream, but when you eat it you have other things on your mind? You look down and it’s gone – and you never really tasted it. You feel dissatisfied … and start you start looking for something else to eat …

For many of us, eating is part of a battle with our weight and body shape. So here are some suggestions that can help you bring mindfulness to your eating habits.

1. Let go of your goals. When we focus on a goal, we’re in the realm of success and failure, not the realm of noticing and adapting.

2. Start noticing your habits: see if you can explore what’s happening and l;let go of any judgments

3. Before you eat ask yourself, ‘Why do I feel like eating? Sometimes the body is hungry and needs nourishing; other times we want stimulation or comfort or we’re driven by the idea that I should eat something – or I shouldn’t. Making this a practice can enrich the whole of your life.

4. Notice the prompts … Many things entice us to over-eat: adverts, packaging or the sight and smell of food itself. If you’re standing in a cafe in front of the cake section, you’ll probably feel an impulse to eat one. If there’s a bar of chocolate on your desk, you’re going to feel like nibbling it. Notice what’s influencing you helps you regain the initiative. Eat the chocolate bar if you want to – but make that a conscious choice, not an impulse.

4. Find other sources of nourishment. Only eating will satisfy the body’s hunger, but you can meet other kinds of dissatisfaction in other ways. Take a break. Take a walk. Breathe. If eating is a substitute, give yourself what you really need.

5. Pause … Some people pause before they eat to say grace or to reflect with gratitude. Others just pause to make a transition so they can be more fully aware when they eat. If you’ve been busy before you come to eat, that transition is important.

6. Slow down … It turns out that the dieticians’ advice about chewing your food between 15 and 32 times is well considered. You’ll need to be aware of the impulse to rush your eating and counteract it. Put down your fork. Take your time …

7. … and smell the coffee. Savouring, noticing and appreciating are an alternative to gulping, gobbling and gorging. Mindfulness is all about noticing what’s happening right now, so take the time to look, smell and taste your food. You’ll feel more satisfied and are less likely to start looking for a snack.

Read Vishvapani’s review of Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food by Jan Chozen Bays