This is the season for New Year’s Resolutions and at the top of so many people’s list is something related to health. Whether it’s eat more fruits and veggies, run a 5K, or sign-up for an aerobics class, health-based New Year’s Resolutions are officially in full swing. A common resolution is to “eat better” and with so many diets and health foods, sometimes it difficult to figure out where to start. My suggestion, start with mindful eating or eating with intention and purpose. Mindful eating can be used to help you control portion size because it encourages you to slow down, savor each bit, and focus on your body. This helps prevent you from overeating when you are hungry, and recognize when you are full.
To help me eat mindfully, I often rely on the principles of yoga, which focus on moving with intention, purpose, and with the breath. When I do my yoga practice, I often say “It’s just me and the mat,” and turn off every possible distraction both physically, like the TV, and in my mind, like stress. To eat mindfully, you do the same thing. Turn off your distractions and focus on your food.
In yoga, you move with the breath, which helps you to focus on each pose and enjoy its benefits. You can apply this to eating too. Slow down, breathe and focus on your food. Really take time savoring each bit. Reflect on the texture of the food. Is it crunchy, maybe creamy? How does it taste? Sweet, savory, salty? By focusing on the food itself, you will be able to enjoy each bite and also pay attention to your satiety.
It’s comforting going through the motions and never trying a new pose. But that is neither fun, nor does it advance your yoga practice. When it comes food, try new things—from spices like sumac to revamping favorites like poké. By trying new things, not only are you advancing your own palette, but you are also getting a variety of healthful nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
In yoga, you have to relax. You never rush through a pose or sequence just to finish early. You take your time, relax, and move through each movement intentionally and with purpose. The same should happen with eating. Life can get pretty hectic, and you will be tempted to rush through a meal. Instead, slow down. Enjoy your food and focus on eating and not what you have to do after you finish eating.
Mindful eating is one simple way to eat healthier.
EDIT 1/15/2016: We had a question about the scientific link between mindful eating and losing weight and wanted to specificy. Practicing core principles of mindful and intuitive eating have been linked to improved eating habits and portion control in some studies. Though more research is needed to determine if there are direct links between mindful eating and weight loss, there is no harm in slowing down and savoring your food. It may help you keep your portion sizes in check.