Welcome to our Mindful Eating Tip Blog Series. First, what is mindful eating? Mindful Eating is being fully present with your food and experiencing several sensations such as the smell, taste, and feel of the food you are eating.
Much of what is written in this blog comes from this amazing intuitive eating workbook! I have recommended this book to many of my clients as it has been a very useful resource for myself and many others.
All of us are born as intuitive eaters
As baby’s we cry when we are hungry, but once we are young children we are often told when to eat, when we have ate too much, or too little and somewhere along the way we forget how to listen to our bodies hunger cues. Because of situations like these and what we learn about nutrition through diet culture, we lose touch with our hunger and fullness signals. (Not all of us, but many of us). We use information from the outside as opposed to the inside to decide when and what to eat. Maybe we feel hunger, but we try to “control” it and don’t eat. Maybe we’re not even sure if we get the hunger signal. And maybe we are really in the mood for a cheeseburger and fries, but the rest of the table is ordering grilled chicken and a side salad, so we feel pressure to get that too.
Mindful Eating Tip #1: Honor Your Hunger.
What does this mean?
- Recognizing when you are hungry.
- Deciding what you’re in the mood for.
- Eating without judgment.
I’d like to go into these three in more detail:
1. Recognizing when you are hungry.
First, try to tap into what your body feels like when you’re feeling hungry. You might notice a slight burning or empty feeling in your belly. You might notice energy levels starting to drop or increased thoughts about lunchtime or what you’re going to eat. The signals our bodies send to us when they’re feeling hungry can vary from person to person. Taking a few days to write down the things you feel when hungry can be helpful for becoming more in tune with your body.
Secondly, you also may be thinking “well, what if I want to eat and I’m not hungry?”That’s okay!
There is much more to hunger than just physical hunger. It’s totally normal to give yourself permission to honor a craving then move on instead of thinking about said food for the rest of the day, and maybe even tomorrow. You may also think of other events that you may have to eat when you’re not feeling hungry. Like maybe you need to have an early dinner because you will be out of the house for a few hours. It’s better to think ahead and fuel yourself earlier, than to skip a meal.
Lastly, it’s possible that you do not get regular hunger signals and that’s okay. If you’ve been struggling with disordered eating (like dieting) or an eating disorder, it’s possible your body has stopped sending you that signal. So, it’s time to work on getting your body to trust you again. Generally, this means fueling every 3-4 hours with a meal that has about 3-4 food groups or a snack that has about 2-3 food groups. You will have to eat when you’re not hungry, but over time you’ll recognize the hunger signal starting to come back. This means you’re body is beginning to trust you again.
2. Deciding what you’re in the mood for.
This basically comes down to choosing a meal that is satisfying. Going back to something I said earlier… If you’re in the mood for a burger and fries, but you get a salad with grilled chicken, chances are, you’re still going to be feeling hungry after the meal. Maybe not physically hungry, but you won’t feel quite satisfied. There is something truly empowering about truly enjoying a meal.
3. Eating without judgment. We have a tendency to judge our hunger.
We’ve been taught to do this by diet culture. Appetite suppressants advertisements and articles about foods that will “keep you satisfied for longer” suggest hunger and cravings are bad guys. BUT!!! And please repeat this 3 times… Hunger and cravings are a very, very normal part of the human experience. We are supposed to feel hungry. We are supposed to feel cravings. Our bodies don’t send us the exact same signals every day. We may get the hunger signals more times (or less times) in a day. And that’s okay and normal.
If you see a dietitian regularly, I would encourage you to talk more about these concepts with your private dietitian.
Or you could pick up the book Intuitive Eating. I’m also happy to answer any questions and appreciate feedback, so please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have a new book that embraces the principles of intuitive eating called: Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating. Find out more here.
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Dana uses her advanced training in functional nutrition and food sensitivities to help her clients love and trust food again as they heal from years of painful symptoms that have dominated their lives. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating and Cooking with Food Sensitivities Survival Guide.