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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 July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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