7 steps to mindful eating

Yesterday, millions of Americans had a Thanksgiving meal. Most of us tend to overeat during Thanksgiving. This is perfectly acceptable since it is a time of celebration and sharing good food with friends and family. What can be troubling to our health is when we overeat on a regular basis. We all know of the obesity problem in America. In a few years, half of Americans will be considered overweight. One of the ways to combat overeating is to be more mindful during your meal. Here are some practical steps that you can follow to be a mindful eater.

1. Determine if you are hungry before you eat.

I used to eat even when I was not hungry. I still do this sometimes but I try to refrain myself. I used to have three big meals each day. Lately I realized that I could do fine on two small meals and one big meal. For me, breakfast and dinner are my small meals of the day while lunch is my big meal. You should listen to your body and eat only when you are hungry.

2. Appreciate your food.

As Americans, we have more privileges than most people in the world. Most of us take eating for granted. Very few of us know how it feels like to go to bed hungry. We also take for granted the great amount of food diversity that we see in the restaurants and in the supermarkets. So next time when you are about to take the first bite of your meal, take a minute to really be grateful for food that you are about to have.

3. Eat alone.

When you eat alone, you can become more mindful of how much you are eating. When we eat with others, we have a tendency to eat more than we should because of peer pressure or because we are not aware of what we are doing. Eating alone is something that I recommend you do once in a while. It will give you a deeper appreciation for the pleasure of eating that we can sometimes forget when we are with others.

4. Eat slowly.

My father was a fast eater. I don’t think he ever chewed his food but swallowed it. It was always a race to see how quickly he could finish his meal. I always told him to slow down but he just didn’t listen. I tend to eat slowly. My meals can take up to an hour sometimes. There are many reasons why you should eat slowly. First, you will enjoy your meal more. Secondly, your body will signal you when you are full more accurately if you slow down. Be aware of every bite you take.

5. Eat healthy.

We live in a fast food nation. The food that we eat greatly affects our body and mind. Part of being a mindful eater is knowing what you are putting in your body. I know that eating fast food can be very tempting because of the cost and convenience factors. But once in a while, you should consider healthy alternatives besides eating in restaurants. An even better idea is to cook a healthy meal at home. Not only you will enjoy it more, but it will be healthier and less expensive than eating out. I also recommend eating lots of fruits and vegetables since they are the healthiest things we can eat.

6. Eat less.

I used to overeat all the time. This made me feel bloated and heavy. I definitely did not enjoy the feelings of being so full. It actually makes it hard to meditate when you are full. My recommendation is to eat until you are 80% full. Two things will happen when you do this. First, you will enjoy your meal more. When we overeat, we don’t enjoy the meal as much. Secondly, we feel better. Eating requires energy. When we stop eating, the body is at rest.

7. Go on a fast.

If you want to have a spiritual experience, go on a fast. Fasting has occurred in every faith and has been used as a method of transformation and healing since recorded history. When you fast you will get more in touch with yourself and your body. It is an effective way to clear the mind and get you closer to higher spiritual powers. Fasting is also a great way to cleanse toxins out of your body. If you plan to abstain from food for longer than a few days, you should do it under medical supervision.