Have you ever tried to restrict a specific food from your diet but ended up finally giving in and eating as much of it as you could?   Sometimes, strictly limiting certain foods can have worse consequences than letting yourself enjoy those tempting treats in moderation. 

But how do you keep yourself from falling into the habit of consuming all of those foods you’d like to avoid?  That’s where MINDFUL EATING comes in.  Mindful eating is when you’re able to pay attention to your eating experience without judgement, helping to build a healthy relationship with food.

Here are 5 tips to help you become more mindful about your eating habits while listening to your body.

1. Don’t Completely Restrict Foods

It’s easy to assume that if you don’t restrict your diet at all, you’ll end up over eating.  But, in reality, over eating is more likely to happen if you try banning those favorite treats.  By allowing yourself to eat those forbidden foods in limited quantities, they actually become less enticing.  Because of this, it’s easier to eat them in moderation and avoid falling into a binge situation.

2. Listen to Your Hunger Cues

Sometimes we eat for reasons other than hunger, like when we’re bored, stressed, or upset.  It’s important to listen to your body and ask yourself if you’re truly hungry when you reach for a snack.  If you catch yourself eating as a reaction to emotions, try to find other ways to relieve those feelings.  Yoga, deep breathing, or a nice distraction like taking a walk are easy ways to cope and redirect those feelings.

3. Listen to Your Fullness Cues

Did you know it can take up to 20 minutes after eating for your brain to register that your stomach is full?  Take your time eating meals, fully chewing, tasting, and enjoying each bite.  Before filling your plate with a second helping, wait 20 minutes to see if you’re still hungry.

4.  Limit Distractions

Ever sat in front of the TV and devoured an entire bag of popcorn without realizing it?  With all of the electronic distractions in our day, it can be challenging to “unplug.”  These distractions also cause us to ignore or not be mentally present for what and how much we are eating.  Try to have at least one meal per day without using technology during the meal.  Really focus on the flavor, texture and smell of your food while eating – you’ll enjoy it more!

5. Respect Your Body

Avoid speaking negatively about your body.  Feeling guilty about eating certain foods can lead to emotional eating behaviors, so try to limit labeling foods as “good” or “bad.”  Appreciate your body for all of the amazing things it does and focus on self-compassion!Contact your local CoreLife Registered Dietitian with any questions about these or any nutrition related topics.  Speak with a dietitian before adopting these behaviors if you have a history of an eating disorder.