Stop Eating All Day Long with these Mindful Eating Practices
1. Eat When You’re Hungry
This seems like common sense, right? Yet many of us are guided to eat because we want to, not because we need to. There are so many reasons we eat: because someone wants to feed us; because we’re at a party and feel obligated; because Grandma made your favorite dessert; because it’s Friday night; because it’s the Superbowl; because it’s Sunday brunch; because a co-worker brought in a surprise snack from a local restaurant; because you’re bored; because you’re stressed; because you’re excited; because, because, because.
Imagine if the primary reason, the only reason, the essential reason you ate is because your body is truly hungry. You’ll feel lighter. You’ll be lighter. You’ll be more productive. You’ll be more focused on whatever is in front of you. You’ll face issues at hand. You’ll have more energy. You’ll feel more at peace.
One day, my friend sent me a text. At nearly 30 years old, she had an “aha” moment that the thousands of times she thought she was hungry, she actually just wanted to eat. She thought it was the same thing. It’s not and realizing the difference is a game-changer.
Put it Into Practice: Become more conscious of what’s driving you to eat.
Before, during or after you eat, ask yourself, “Am/was I hungry?” If you aren’t hungry but you wantto eat, then it’s possible you’re dehydrated, bored or otherwise unsatisfied. Drink some water, go outside, play some good-feeling music and move your body.
An Extra Tip: Be gentle with yourself.
Change isn’t always a breeze. You’re not going to be perfect at first, so be self-compassionate. It may take you months or years to become super consistent at only eating when you’re hungry. You’re on the road to success when you can ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” while you’re eating. You’re successful when you can ask yourself this question regularly, before the food enters your mouth.
2. Notice Your Hunger Level Throughout the Day
Mindful eating allows you to find a happy medium. The idea is: Don’t starve yourself. Don’t stuff yourself.
You know exactly what it means to be working on something and suddenly think, “Omg, I’m starving!!” And you know exactly what it feels like the moment you ate too much: “Omg, I need to lie down.”
If you check in with yourself more regularly throughout the day, you can avoid getting too hungry. When you’re too hungry, you end up choosing bad food or eating too much of whatever you had.
Don’t eat until you’re full. Eat until you’re a few bites away from full. Have the courage to stop early. You should stop eating when you still feel the energy to do light tasks. You shouldn’t be so full that you feel immobile.
Tip: Here’s a tip for you, especially if you aren’t tuned into your true hunger signals. Use the Hunger Scale. It goes from 1-10. One is characterized by light-headedness, aggravation, inability to focus and being “hangry.” 10 is like post-Thanksgiving meal stuffed. Stay between a 3 and 8 all day. Every couple hours, ask yourself, “How hungry am I?” You’ll gradually begin to learn the difference between true hunger and “wanting to eat.”