Mindfulness seems to be a coveted new lifestyle trend. I’ve been reading (and writing) about the world of mindfulness, from how can you practice it, to what it’s benefits are in the long run. But when I started exploring the concept of ‘mindful snacking’ I was blown away. I couldn’t stop asking myself why I haven’t always been doing this. This way of snacking is most definitely the most positive health-conscious route I’ve ever heard of!
Mindful eating is all about slowing down, savoring each bite, and noticing the sensations involved in eating. You don’t necessarily have to employ this practice for every meal of the day – but start small and see the effects it has on both your mind and body. It is a fantastic way to feel nourished and refreshed after a meeting, in between work, or in whatever circumstances you may find yourself.
Mindful snacking is when you simply eat with ‘full attention’ on your food. This means no TV, no online streaming, no movies, no chatter, or any other external stimuli. It may feel at first like you’ve been imprisoned with just your food, but over time it proves to be a lot better than eating mindlessly.
Here are some tips to start eating mindfully:
1. How hungry are you?
Starving, somewhat hungry, or just in the mood to eat? If you want to snack just because you watched an Instagram food story, you better refrain! But if you’re actually starving, and the time is right for snacking – give in and eat something so you don’t get ‘hangry’ or overeat at the next meal.
2. Don’t get carried away
By the hundreds of distractions around you. Find a nice, quiet place and silence your phone. Be in the moment. Don’t think about anything but the food in front of you, and try to ‘feel’ all the flavors that it actually possesses. Believe me, you will notice a difference in every bite. Mindlessness promotes overeating. Think about finishing a big bucket of popcorn while watching movies for example.
3. Take smaller bites
Slow and steady wins the race. Enjoy smaller bites and the taste that they have to offer. You will feel full earlier if you take smaller bites. When I take small bites, I get tired just from the chewing – every bite still requires the same energy to chew and break down, so more chewing = more tiring.
4. Savor your food
Yes. Pick up all the flavors and textures of the sandwich you’re eating in a way that you may have never done before, and take some time to appreciate the person who made it too.
5. Check if you’re full midway
Maybe you liked the sandwich so much that you didn’t realize you were full? Check in with yourself midway to determine whether you’re actually still hungry and might need another sandwich. Better to not get so lost in the taste that you start to overeat – a significant portion of your purpose will then be left defeated.
A five-step guide to Mindful Snacking
One: Breathe in and out, and think about why you want to eat. Is it the pizza you saw in an Instagram post that blew your mind during work? Is it the pack of crackers you brought to the office, or are you actually hungry for real? Once you know you’re hungry, it’s snack time!
Two: Pay attention to ‘mindfully’ choosing your snack. What is it that’s really going to satisfy you and your taste buds? Something sweet or spicy, or something cold or sizzling hot? Give this thought and choose your snack mindfully to avoid overeating. Eat whatever you think will satisfy you to prevent yourself from ordering your next snack.
Three: 100 calories until your next eating time is fine because that is how much you will burn. So, don’t be guilty about consuming anything equal to or less than 100 calories. If you think your choice of snack has more than that, you might want to look for another option.
Four: Enjoy and savor your food.
Five: Go slow. Apply mindful eating to snack times first, and then gradually move this practice to other meal times as well. Try to fully understand the effects and benefits the mindful snacking path provides you with.