Contributor: Dr. Kristen Race

On a new diet for bathing suit season? Need to drop a few pounds? Find out how to implement REAL change in the way you eat with mindful eating practices. No calorie counting required…

Mindful eating is not a diet or about giving up your favorite foods. It’s about experiencing food more intensely. There are no menus or food restrictions. Instead, you will develop a new mindset around food.

The benefits of mindful eating are extensive. Recent studies have found that mindful eating can help you to:

  • Reduce overeating and binging
  • Lose weight and reduce your body mass index (BMI)
  • Reduce anxious thoughts about food and your body
  • Cope with chronic eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia
  • Improve the symptoms of type 2 diabetes

Mindful eating can help you become more aware of the food you buy and portion sizes you consume, as well as help you get out of negative, automatic habits like mindlessly eating meals while you check emails, surf the web, respond to texts or work.

Most of us have lost track of the true sensations of hunger and fullness. We eat because we feel the urge to eat food that is in front of us.

~ Dr. Kristen Race

Mindful eating puts you back in tune with your body’s cues. You will be able to recognize when you’re truly hungry and when you’ve eaten enough. Mindful eating helps you recognize those times when you are eating as a way to cope with negative emotions. You will no longer have to swallow your emotions with food.

Mindfulness changes the way you think. Rather than eating, or over-restricting your diet, as a reaction to emotional urges, mindfulness teaches you to notice those thoughts for what they are, and separate them from the act of nourishing your body.

4 Ways to Get Your Whole Family to Eat Mindfully

  1. Schedule time to eat.  Remember when we used to take lunch hours? If you tend to eat lunch at your desk, in your car or during a meeting, it’s time to change that. Give your meals priority. Schedule a time to eat lunch, and stick to it.
  2. Use your senses.  Take a moment before you eat to see, smell, and even touch your food. Finally, taste it. Use all of your senses to take in your meal. Be intentional about noticing the flavors, textures, scents and temperature of each bite.
  3. Put down your fork.  After each bite, put down your fork. This simple trick will slow your eating and remind you to take your time. The stomach does not signal to the brain that it’s full right away, so when you eat bite after bite, you fill your stomach past the point of fullness before your brain gets the message that it’s full. Despite what your parents taught you, you don’t have to finish every bite on your plate.
  4. Try it with your kids.  Our kids are growing up with a faster-is-better mentality, even when it comes to eating. By hurrying our kids through meals, we teach them that eating is just another task on our list to be checked off—and fast. Instead, show your kids how to be intentional with their food choices and how they eat. Start with a mindful snack. Or eat mindfully for the first minute of every meal. Plant the seeds of mindful eating in your kids now, and they will grow into healthy eating habits as they get older. 

What are your favorite mindful eating practices? Share in the comments below!

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