Mindful eating is an anti-diet method of eating that helps you make better decisions about eating without restricting your food, or making you feel guilty or cray-cray around mealtimes.
It’s about tapping into your body signals and listening to what your body needs at any given moment…rather than relying on a Bossy Pants diet to tell you what and when to eat.
Mindful eating has shown to lead to healthier weight, reduced stress, improved body confidence, and more eating satisfaction. Mindful eating is a no-brainer really.
And the pod to mindful eating’s peas is yoga.
Studies have shown that if you regularly practice yoga, this can improve mindful eating behavior too.
In fact, a recent research study from the Cancer Research Center, and a follow-up study published in The Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that people who were aware of what they ate and stopped when they were full weighed less than those who ate mindlessly, plus those who practiced yoga regularly were much more adept at mindful eating.
Yoga increases mindfulness in eating and leads to less weight gain over time, independent of the additional physical benefits of yoga. This is because yoga helps you develop mindfulness at being able to hold a challenging pose and observing how your body responds (in a non-judgmental way). It also helps you focus your mind through breathing techniques. The ability to be calm and observant, especially during physical discomfort teaches you how to be calm and observant in other challenging situations in your life, such as not eating through stress but learning to cope with your emotions instead.
Mindful eating can empower you to build a positive relationship with food, and yoga can help accelerate your mindful eating skills by honing in on your abilities to listen, connect to your body and stay focused.
Here are some tips to start eating more mindfully:
Sit down, in a comfortable quiet and relaxing space with no distractions, so you can focus on your food. Then ask yourself these questions as you’re eating.
Why do I eat?
Ask yourself why you’re eating a specific food to understand your physical and emotional health. Sometimes, we may eat not for real physical hunger, but because we’re trying to soothe our emotions with food. Explore triggers such as physical hunger, stressful event, your mood or seeing the food.
What do I eat?
Are you choosing food for convenience, taste, comfort or nutrition? Are you choosing something you really want, or because your diet or someone else has told you to? Do you like the taste, sweetness, saltiness, texture, crunchiness, coldness etc?
How do I eat?
Are you rushed, distracted, secretive or mindful when you eat? It takes about 20 minutes for your brain and body to talk to each other to tell you that you’re full, so the slower and more mindfully you eat (i.e.: no distractions), the more satisfied you will become and you’ll give your brain and body time to talk before you are stuffed.
Am I energized?
Do you feel satisfied and energized after eating, or sluggish and bloated or even guilty or ashamed? These feelings are tied not only to the nutritional value of what you’re eating but also to your diet mindset about what you “should” and “shouldn’t” eat.
How much do I eat?
Is it based on how full you become, the package size, mindless habit or clean-your-plate eating? Being aware of how full you’re becoming can help you to stop before you overeat and become uncomfortable.
By asking yourself these questions throughout your meal as often as you can, you will start to make mindful eating a lifelong heathy habit. Hells yeah!
The best way to start this is to write it down in a journal – you can get my free guide with a sample journal here.
Plus, if you’re already a yogi, this will take you leaps and bounds in the way of mindful eating, making it much easier to build this habit. If you’re new to yoga, try out a beginners’ class at a local studio and start to tap into your body signals.
Yoga Workshop to get you in the Mindful Eating Zone
For those living in, or visiting, Grand Cayman: On September 28th I am partnering with Bliss Yoga Cayman studio to host a 90-minute workshop, combining mindful eating and yoga. I will give you the tools to feel calm and confident around food, while yoga instructor, Rachel Whitfield will guide you through a yoga practice so you can tune in and trust your body cues.
Beginners and experienced yogis all welcome. Hosted at Bliss studio in Grand Cayman from 3pm-5:30pm on Saturday September 28th. Tickets are $40pp and can be booked directly through Bliss Yoga Cayman.