Caught up in our day-to-day, we’ve forgotten how to slow down, be present and what that even feels like.
Mindfulness is simply defined as attending (through awareness) to the here and now, to what you’re doing and why. Today, mindfulness has become a popular topic. So much so that it has led to discussions around Mindful Eating; something I’m sure many believe they don’t have time for.
According to Jan Chozen Bays, MD, author of Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food, the mind has two distinct functions which is thinking and awareness1. When we are caught up with thinking, awareness (a fundamental part of mindfulness) goes down.
Coming from personal experience, I myself have realized that when I’m not fully present when and with what I’m eating, I tend not to feel truly full. Ultimately, I have lost a sense of connection and true enjoyment of eating, especially when half of the time I’m scoffing down snacks and lunch, 5 days of the week!
Sadly, we’ve become a generation that takes food for granted. Mindful eating allows us to restore that balance and sense of satisfaction in food and eating. Below is a list of 7 ways you can practice mindful eating, as well as with your kids:
1. Eat and serve nutritionally healthy food options
When shopping for food, select from a wide and diverse range of healthy food options such as fruits & berries, vegetables, nuts & seeds, whole-grains & legumes and organic options. Serve these wholesome options for kid’s snacks, lunches and dinners.
2. Try different types of foods
Learn, explore and try various types, flavours and textures of foods. Did you know, babies begin to learn about foods from before they are born. While in the womb, babies taste what the mother eats, resulting in a preference for certain foods and flavours after they are born. As well, research has suggested that it takes many tries before a child accepts a new food, so be mindful of this.
3. Focus only on eating
Slow down, eliminate distractions, enhance your awareness and explore eating with all your senses.
4. Enjoy meals with others, at specific times and places
Allocate specific time for family meals, even if it’s 3 times a week. Focus on the present and presence of each other. Limit distractions such as from electronics and enjoy one another’s company. Learn together. Talk about the process that it took for the food to get to your plate. How is a tomato or rice grown?
5. Think and discuss where your food comes from & explore gardening at home
Whether in the grocery store or sitting down for dinner, take some time to talk with your kids about the different parts of the world food comes from. You can sometimes find this on the sticker of fruits or on the back of food packaging. Take a shot at growing your own fruits and vegetables and explore with kids the process from beginning (planting the seed) to end (when it reaches the dinner table).
6. Learn to eat based on your body’s signal of hunger and satiety
Become familiar with the signs your body gives you when you are hungry and when you are full. Trust in your child’s ability in learning how to tell when they are hungry or full as well. Serve appropriate portions and allow them the opportunity to request for more.
7. Be mindful of the relationship that is established with food
Foster your own and your child’s healthy relationship with food by making eating an enjoyable experience from the start. By recognizing and respecting the cues and signs your body gives you will prevent overeating, frustration and builds positive eating habits. Building a child’s healthy relationship with food is fundamental to lifelong development that all begins with You!
1 Bays, Jan Chozen. Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food. Shambhala, 2017.
Interested in more mindful eating tips?
Check out 7 Tips for How to Practice Mindful Eating by Choosing Therapy
This website is provided only for informational purposes and not intended to be used to replace professional advice, treatment or professional care. Always speak to your physician, healthcare provider or pediatrician if you have concerns about your own health or the health of a child.
2 thoughts on “7 Ways to Practice Mindful Eating”
I have really resonated with your post, both as an adult who loves eating and as a teacher. I will never forget my grade six trip to Kearney where we were not allowed to leave the eating table unless our plate was completely finished. It taught me to be mindful of how much food to put onto my plate which helped me practice self-regulation. That experience has been carried with me as I can’t remember the last time I left food on my plate! But I tend to put a lot on my plate which leaves me too full a lot of the times hehe. I want to practice serving small proportions to be mindful of when my belly is full and doesn’t need more.
As for being an educator, I love exploring growing plants with my students to teach them where our food comes from in a hands-on way! Students love watching their plants grow. It also helps them to practice responsibility as they need to take care of their plant. Learning where our food comes from will help them to appreciate eating healthy foods.
Thank you for another informative article 🙂
I’m glad you’re enjoying the mindful eating topics! I’ve recently picked back up this book and just finished reading the chapter on Exploring Our Habits and Patterns with Food. It talks about how our relationship with food is conditioned by a number of things such as our family, our origin, advertisements, movies, peer and social groups, etc. It said that hearing the words: “clean your plate” conditions us to ignore stomach signals that tell us we’re already full. A survey found that only 20% of people decide to stop eating based on internal cues, while 80% of people rely on external cues such as a TV show finishing or an empty bowl, plate or bag of chips. It also mentioned that an adult (parent, elder, grandparent) could be saying this (“clean your plate”) because of memories of feeling hungry when poor or during the war/great depression and as a sign of love. However, it can lead to feeling guilty, criticized and confused as a child.
I love that you explore growing plants with your students. It really is such a great way for them to learn about the process and cycle of how food is grown and ends up on our plates, while also feeling proud of what they’ve accomplished!