By: Rorie Dunphey
When we are mindful, we are aware of the present moment without judgment. When it comes to eating, being mindful helps us tune into our body’s cues so we can hear more clearly when we are hungry or full. Many social and environmental factors can stand in the way of being able to listen to our bodies. Mindfulness helps us break free from long standing habits by examining thoughts and feelings that affect how, why and when we eat (or don’t eat!)
Here are some ideas to be a more mindful:
Shift out of Autopilot Eating: What did you have for breakfast? Be honest. Many people eat the same thing day in and day out. Notice whether you are stuck in any kind of rut or routine. It can help to keep a food log to become more aware.
Take Mindful Bites: Did you ever eat an entire plate of food and not taste one single bite? Bring all your senses to the dinner table to experience each bite from start to finish. Breathe in the aroma of a fresh loaf of bread, notice the texture of yogurt on your tongue and truly taste each mouthful.
Attentive Eating: Sure, you’re busy and have a lot ‘on your plate.’ It is hard to make eating a priority rather than an option or side task. If you get the urge for a snack while doing your homework or studying, stop and take a break instead, and give eating 100% of your attention. Try to avoid multitasking while you eat. When you eat, just eat.
Mindfully Check In: Ask yourself, ‘How hungry am I on a scale of one to ten?’ Gauging your hunger level is a little like taking your temperature. Each time you eat, ask yourself, ‘Am I physically hungry? Am I eating out of habit? Am I eating because of an emotion like stress or boredom? Aim to eat until you are satisfied, leaving yourself neither stuffed nor starving.
Thinking Mindfully: Observe any critical or judging thoughts like ‘I’m so stupid, why did I eat that!’ Just because you think negative thoughts doesn’t mean you need to act on them. Negative thoughts can trigger overeating or stop you from making healthy choices. Remember: A thought is just a thought, not a fact, and you can choose how to respond to thoughts without judgment. Be kind to yourself!
Rorie Dunphey works under Vermont’s Blueprint for Health as the RN Chronic Care Coordinator at Family Practice Associates in Cambridge. She works one-on-one with people and also leads classes to promote health and help people better manage their chronic diseases. She also assists patients in accessing community and state resources to better coordinate their health and wellness needs. Rorie has a particular passion for promoting a healthy diet and exercise routine to inspire people to live their best life.