As with any new habit, mindful eating takes practice. One of the ultimate goals of mindful eating is to stop eating when you are comfortably full or satisfied. To help you do this, follow the 13 strategies below next time you eat:
1. Pause before eating and ask yourself, “How hungry am I on a scale of 1 to 10?” One signifies “ravenous” while five is “satisfied” and ten is “sick to your stomach,” you’re so full.
2. Ask yourself, “How much food will fit comfortably in my stomach?” Then eat only that much, not more.
3. Pay close attention to the appearance, aroma, taste and texture of your food; savor each bite. Place your utensil down and sit back in your chair between bites and pay full attention to the flavor and texture of each one as you chew.
4. Take frequent breaks during meals. Take a deep breath and check in with your body to determine how full you are.
5. Chew slowly, mindfully, and thoroughly.
6. Finish chewing one bite of food before scooping another bite onto your fork or spoon. You can slow down, reduce your intake, and better enjoy the taste and experience of your food by paying full attention to one bite at a time.
8. Sip—don’t gulp—your beverage.
9. If you’re sharing your meal with others, engage in conversation with them.
10. Know that this will not be the last time you eat these foods because you can enjoy them again at another meal or snack, especially if you have leftovers.
11. Save leftovers for when you are hungry and need to fuel your body again.
12. If you find yourself continuing to eat once full, ask yourself “Does this food taste as good now that I’m full?”
13. Wait 10 to 15 minutes before going for seconds. You’ll be able to more accurately determine how full you are, since it takes this much time for your stomach to signal your brain.
Final Steps to a Mindful Meal
As soon as you are comfortably full, put down your fork and stop eating. Sit back in your chair and enjoy the pleasant feeling of fullness. Then ask yourself the following questions:
What are you feeling?
Are you disappointed that you feel full?
Are you anxious or uncomfortable that you are not eating but others are?
Is it better to continue eating with others leading you to overeat, and feel guilty because you ate until you were uncomfortable?
Or, is it more pleasurable and rewarding to eat until satisfied, so that you feel content and proud for stopping at a comfortable level of fullness?
Carefully think about and examine how you feel during this experiment. Foster your curiosity about this experience and learn from it. It may help to journal about it, including your answers to the questions above
And remember, practice is key to mastering the art of mindful eating. Eating mindfully takes the “power” away from food and gives it back to its rightful owner: you. It helps you reconnect with the internal signals that enable you to eat normally, lose or maintain a healthy weight, and reach your health goals.