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7 Simple Steps to Mindful Eating

7 Simple Steps to Mindful Eating

What is mindful eating? According to the Harvard Health Letter, it’s “noticing the colors, smells, flavors and textures of your food; chewing slowly; getting rid of distractions like TV or reading; and learning to cope with guilt and anxiety about food.” Most people do the opposite. They don’t usually take the time to enjoy the experience of eating, but instead they quickly rush through meals and eat mindlessly. There are many health risks related to eating that pose potential harm to people, such as obesity and GMOs found in food. This is why it is important to develop the habit of mindful eating. Keep in mind what you eat, and you are bound to live a longer and healthier life. Here are seven steps to eat more mindfully.

1. Choose healthier foods when shopping

Mindful eating starts before you sit down at the table. Stocking your kitchen with the right foods, and saying no to junk food, is an easy way to ensure a healthier meal and a mindful eating experience. When in doubt, abide by this simple rule: Choose whole, unprocessed food whenever possible. This includes vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, and lean dairy, meats and fish.

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2. Eat only when you’re hungry

Many people snack when they’re bored or as part of social rituals. However, you shouldn’t eat unless your body is telling you it’s hungry. Otherwise, you easily load up on extra calories and gain weight. If you’re hungry, there’s no problem with a healthy snack between meals, but don’t over do it by letting your light snack turn into a binge session.

3. Eliminate distractions when you’re ready to eat

Getting distracted while eating is very common. Many people like to unwind in front of the TV with their dinner, talk on the phone while eating or just “zone out” as they shovel food in their mouths. This is called “mindless eating.” To eat mindfully, you need to set aside the distractions and get focused on the task at hand, which is eating your food.

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4. Take deep breaths to settle your mind

Before you eat, take a few deep breaths to calm your mind. Examine your emotions, and note how you’re feeling. Tell yourself you will consciously be in the moment until you’re finished eating.

5. Savor each bite

Bring all your senses to the table, and really experience each bite. Note the smell, the feel and texture of the food in your mouth and the taste of different ingredients. Chew slowly and deliberately. And don’t follow the “clean your plate” rule. If you overload your plate with food, put the rest in a Tupperware and save it for the next day. Better yet, buy smaller plates so you break the habit of piling mass amounts of food on your plate and thinking you need to finish it to be satisfied.

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6. Allow your thoughts to flow freely

Your mind naturally wanders while eating, especially if you’re distracted by others at your table. This is okay. Just re-focus on eating slowly and deliberately when you notice this happening. Be aware of each bite you take despite the thoughts that may flow through your head. Let those thoughts flow like clouds, and keep shifting your focus back to the sensory experience of the food in front of you. Mindful eating is a process that takes time to learn. So don’t be discouraged if you make mistakes, because the next moment is an opportunity to re-focus on your mindful eating efforts.

7. Express gratitude

Acknowledge the time and effort you put into preparing your food. Be thankful that you get to enjoy your nourishing meal. Savor each bite, and express gratitude before and after you eat. This makes the experience of eating so much more enjoyable. And that’s really what mindful eating is all about: nourishing your body while providing a satisfying experience for your brain.

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More by this author

Scott Christ

Scott Christ is a writer, entrepreneur, and founder of Pure Food Company.

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Last Updated on December 2, 2019

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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