Tips for Mindful Eating

By Heather Vrbanac, Coord. of Occupational Therapy Services & Mental Hygiene

and Lauren Wills, Manager of Essential Eating

  • Mindfulness is deliberately paying attention to what is happening around you and within you.

  • Building mindfulness into your day doesn’t require squeezing designated time for mindfulness into an already busy schedule, it simply means finding ways to be present and aware of moments throughout your day.

  • Mindful eating can be one of the easiest ways to build mindfulness into your daily life.

  • Try these three different strategies for eating mindfully:

  • When eating, just eat

    • Try not to do anything else while you’re eating or drinking

    • Take the time to enjoy what you’re taking in

    • Open your senses by noticing colours, shapes, textures, smells and flavours

  • One bite at a time

    • After you take a bite, put down your spoon or fork and knife

    • If you’re eating with your hands, put whatever you’re eating down between bites

    • Bring your attention to the sensations in your mouth until that bite has been enjoyed and swallowed

  • Look deeply into food

    • Consider your food or drink as if you could see backward, into its history

    • Imagine where it comes from and how many people might have been involved in bringing it to your table

    • Think about the people who planted, weeded and harvested the food

    • Think about the truckers, food packagers, grocers and store employees

    • Think about who prepared the food for you today

    • Bring gratitude and appreciation for all that went into bringing this food to you today

Reference: Chozen Bays, J. (2011). How to train a wild elephant & other adventures in mindfulness. Boulder, CO: Shambhala Publications Inc

Hunger and Satisfaction Scale

This scale from 1-10 is used to help you tune into feelings of hunger and satisfaction. Note that each person may feel differently at each level and thus feel free to use your own descriptions and experiences.

1-2: Too hungry - headache, dizzy, nauseous, irritable, shaky, low energy

3-4: Hungry - Empty, thoughts turn to food, hunger pangs, growling stomach

5: Neutral - No longer hungry but not quite satisfied

6-7: Satisfied - Pace of eating slows, feeling of well-being

8-10: Too full - Ranges from uncomfortably to painfully full, even nauseated

Impacts of Mindful Eating on Eating Behaviour

  • Helps remove 'should' statements from food

    • Adoption of diet rules

  • Removes ‘all or nothing’ approach to eating

  • Decreased consumption of energy dense indulgences

    • Satisfied with less

  • Fewer food cravings

  • Engagement in ‘what’, ‘when’, and ‘how much’ we eat

 

Reference: Hundall, M. (2018). Mindful Eating in Nutrition Counseling for Eating Behaviours. CO: Today’s Dietitian.

 

For any questions about mindful eating, please do not hesitate to contact Lauren (lauren@thisishealthful.ca) or Heather (heather@thisishealthful.ca) or via phone at 613-828-8586

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