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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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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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