Am I Hungry? 4 Easy Mindful Eating Exercises
Do you avoid or feel guilty eating certain foods?
Do you eat because you’re angry, bored, sad, tired, etc.?
Do you eat for comfort, reward, celebration, etc.?
Do you eat while doing other things (watching TV, working, driving)?
In our diet-obsessed, food-abundant culture, eating is often guilt-inducing. We may receive a general suggestion to “follow a healthy lifestyle.” You usually know this means exercise and watch what you eat. But, this suggestion isn’t terribly helpful if you’ve been unsuccessful at doing that for years.
The Problem is Not…
The problem isn’t in food. Food is neither good nor bad. And, eating is a natural, healthy, and (can be a) pleasurable activity to satisfy hunger. Almost all of us can relate some difficulty we have with food. We may be embarrassed by an affection for chocolate, or experience the misery of sneaky nighttime eating. How did food and eating become such a common source of unhappiness and guilt?
THESE are the Problems.
We don’t recognize the messages our bodies broadcast. We judge and find ourselves lacking motivation, or willpower. And, we throw our hands up in defeat.
Mindfulness means paying attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them. Mindful eating teaches us to hear what our body is telling us, and rekindle our relationship with food. I it empowers us to break automatic, or habitual, reactions. That’s how we discover options that work best for us.
What isn’t Mindful Eating?
Well, it’s not about eliminating what you love to eat, or putting up with tasteless food substitutes. It doesn’t require willpower, self-control, or deprivation. Ultimately, (tada!) it’s guilt free.
Mindful eating doesn’t mean eating perfectly. And, it’s not the same thing as controlling what you eat. Mindful eating is not a diet, or about giving up anything.
What IS Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating eliminates labeling food (good, bad). Mindful eating is about paying attention to food colors, flavors, smells, sounds (crunch!, smoosh), temperatures, and textures.
4 Mindful Eating Exercises
- (Easy) Drink the first four sips of a cup of hot tea or coffee while maintaining total attention on what you’re doing.
- (Easy) If you usually eat and read together, alternate the activities instead of doing both at once. To illustrate, read a page, then put the book down and eat a few bites. In other words, savor the taste; then read another page, and so on.
- (Intermediate) In a social eating scenario, ask everyone to eat in silence for the first five minutes. In detail, concentrate on eating, chewing, and attention.
- (Advanced) Eat one meal a week alone, and silently. In this case, simply eat. To emphasize, refrain from eating and (talking, watching TV, gossiping on the phone, Tweeting, or updating your Facebook status).
Changing Day by Day
Changing our eating habits and lack of attention to our actions aren’t easy. Therefore, don’t be too hard on yourself. We can’t automatically switch on a mindfulness button and do it 100%. Lasting change happens with small changes and takes time (probably more than 21 days).
Jacqueline Gikow, is a movement/fitness coach, medical fitness specialist, and health and wellness coach. Her holistic, health and wellness practice, Audacious Living NYC™, centers on pain relief through better movement. She is certified through the National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM), the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBCHWC), the Functional Aging Institute (FAI), Medfit (MFN), and the Arthritis Foundation (AFAP/AFEP). Her fitness practice includes in-home and remote, one-on-one fitness training and coaching in New York City. Jacqueline can be reached at: https://audaciouslivingnyc.com. Her fitness group, on Facebook, is https://www.facebook.com/groups/audaciouslivingnyc