A beginner's guide to eating more mindfully

It’s about curbing those impulse buys and eating with all your senses

Harper's Bazaar India

A lot has been said about a work-life balance, but actually achieving that is no easy feat. Most of us struggle to find a synergy between the various aspects of our life and this poorly impacts our daily existence. On most days, even a task as important as eating may feel like a mechanical one. It’s either a working lunch where we’re paying less attention to the food and more attention to a task that’s also going on or just eating while watching a TV show that has grabbed our attention, leaving little focus for other things. Found this familiar? Ask yourself when was the last time you sat down and actually paid attention to your meal and appreciated every bite. If you’re drawing a blank, this article is for you.

First things first, remember mindful eating is not a diet. It’s not about losing weight, but about fostering a better relationship with food and your own body. Once you slow down and pay attention to each meal you automatically make healthier choices and start enjoying your food. It also makes you more aware of your body’s hunger and satiety signals and might just help you curb those sneaky, 2 am trips to the fridge.

Scroll down to see how you can incorporate mindful eating in your day.

It begins with your shopping list

It’s time to start fighting that inner child instinct that makes you want to fill your cart with KitKats, Pringles and three tubs of your fave chocolate chip ice cream. So the next time you are out grocery shopping, you need to avoid impulse buys no matter how tempting they seem. Spend most of your time at the fresh produce section and also consider the nutritional value of everything you pick up. Of course, we don’t mean to say that you need to cut out all the junk food, but pre-plan and stagger the mini cheat meals through the month.

Understand your hunger, start with a smaller portion

Hunger and appetite are two separate things, but people confuse the two. While hunger is a physiological need, appetite is your body’s desire for food. So when you sit down to eat, try and examine how your body is feeling. Is your body craving food because you’re bored or frustrated or anxious or are you genuinely hungry? Another point to consider is whether have you let your body go too long without food. If you’re ravenously hungry when you sit down at the table, mindful eating is going to go out of the window.

The bottom line is to eat five small meals instead of three big ones. Start with small portions and pay attention to what you’re eating. You can always take as many helpings as you need to fill yourself later.

Eat with all your senses

When you’re attentive to the various flavours in your food and make note of the colours, the aroma and even the sound that it makes when you chew, you begin to feel a deeper appreciation towards your food. Is your meal crunchy? What are some of the seasonings used? How does the texture change as you continue to eat? Ask yourself these questions. Staying in the moment and eating using all your senses is the crux of a mindful eating experience.

Limit your distractions

No matter how tempted you are to put on the TV show you are currently binging while eating dinner, do not do so as it’s a bad idea. In order to fully optimise a mindful eating experience, it’s crucial to keep all electronics aside (yes, you can’t doomscroll or mindlessly look at reels either). Keep all screens aside, sit at the table and just fully immerse yourself in your food to enjoy it the right way.

Slow down

When eating, take smaller bites and chew each well so as to appreciate each morsel. It’s easier to eat mindfully if your mouth isn’t completely full and you’re not just swallowing what’s on the plate. If you still feel like you are extremely hungry and are eating fast, consciously put your spoon or fork down every few minutes, pause and then see how you feel. Going slower will also stop you from over-stuffing yourself.