Mindful Eating

Barbecue Chicken Pizza with Mustard Greens Pesto. Rachael Hartley, RD

Barbecue Chicken Pizza with Mustard Greens Pesto. Rachael Hartley, RD

Most of us would say yes, we’re mindful eaters, because we’re aware of the things that we’re eating and we’re attempting to eat healthy, nutritional things. But being a mindful eater is more than just choosing the things that benefit our bodies and health the most. Being a mindful eater means being fully attentive to the food on the plate in front of you and being aware of your senses while eating.

Consider this: when you grabbed breakfast this morning, did you eat it on the go while wrangling children out the door on the way to school? When you had a snack at work, were you busy plugging away at a spreadsheet or reading through a report? What about dinner? We’re willing to bet that there was something there too that was pulling your full attention away from your meal.

If you were multitasking while you were eating, you were unknowingly being a mindless eater. You did not have the opportunity to sit down and savor every aspect of your food from the color and texture to the taste and the aroma. Mindful eaters bring all of their senses to the table each time they sit down for a meal.

Mindful eaters also ensure that they have a healthy appetite when it comes time to eat a snack or a meal rather than waiting until they’re famished. When you approach mealtimes this way, you’re then able to put a smaller portion on your plate and take your time eating it. You’re not trying to rapidly fill up a void in your belly and you’re about to more accurately judge how much food you will need to eat to be full.

Simply, mindful eating is about slowing down, savoring, and giving your body just what it needs rather than overindulging. It’s about giving your body time to catch up with your brain so you know when you’re full instead of eating quickly and eating more than you need without realizing until it’s too late. That full belly you experience on Thanksgiving after you had that extra helping of grandma’s homemade mac and cheese? That’s the feeling we’re talking about, and that’s a feeling that mindful eaters are able to easily avoid.

How can you become a more mindful eater? Here are a few tips to help get you started along the path of being more mindful when it comes to your snacks and meals: 

1 - It starts at the store.

Proper meal planning and prepping goes a long way towards mindfully eating! When you have all of your meals planned out and ready to go, you’re more like to cook them, gather around the table with them, and enjoy them.

2 - Serve a smaller portion.

Relax—it’s easy to go back for seconds if you are truly still hungry after the first helping, but a smaller portion allows for your body to have the time to communicate to your brain that it’s satiated. We so often pile our plates high—because most of the time, the food is delicious and we want to enjoy as much of it as possible!—rather than being conscious of how much food our body really needs to be full.

 3 - Turn off the distractions.

Set your phone down, turn the TV off, or step away from your desk. Overindulgence happens so easily when we’re not paying attention to our food and when we let our attention be split as we multitask.

What steps do you take each day to be a mindful eater? We’d love to know! Share your steps with us—post a picture or video on social media, and be sure to tag @naturesgreens and #FarmFreshGreens!