Mindfulness is a Zen Buddhist concept that emphasizes paying full, conscious attention to everything that is happening in the present moment. Because we often eat based on our emotions, external cues, and habits instead of tuning into our bodies and paying attention to what we are actually feeling, many dieters have found it useful to apply that philosophy to eating.

First, before you choose what to eat, think about what you want to eat and why. Are you actually hungry, or are you seeking a remedy for your sadness or boredom? Are you really craving food, or just comfort or a change in scenery? Do you really want that candy bar, or did you buy it because you saw that commercial or want to stop thinking about all the stress you're under at work?


Though you should wait till you're hungry to eat, don't let it go until you're so ravenous that you'd scarf down anything set in front of you. Then, be sure to check back in with your hunger cues throughout your meal. Are you eating because you're still hungry or because there's more on your plate?

Another important mindful eating strategy is to eat more slowly and without distractions. It can take up to 20 minutes after eating for satiety signals to reach the brain, and it's hard to truly enjoy food you eat while paying more attention to the New York Times or the Kardashians.

Slow yourself down by taking sips of water, setting your fork down between bites, experimenting with chopsticks, or chewing each bite a certain number of times. Now that the television is off, you can pay close attention to the flavors, textures, and feelings that you experience, before, during, and after your meal.

Maybe you'll notice that you feel more satisfied by a healthy, protein-packed meal than by vending machine Cheetos. Maybe the cupcakes you used to love are actually so sweet that they're cloying, and the understated flavors of broccoli might be magic to your palate once you start truly tasting them.  


Soon, instead of thinking to yourself that you can't have junk food and bingeing on it out of a desire to rebel, you'll find yourself avoiding it because of how it makes you feel: sluggish, bloated, unsatisfied, guilty, and still hungry for something with actual nutrients.

Other ways to eat more mindfully include planning your meals for a set time and place rather than snacking impulsively, and eating with other people whenever possible. Finally, you should begin each meal by contemplating where your food came from and all the work it took to get it to your table—most of that work not done by you! You may then notice feelings of gratitude that help you appreciate your food even more.

If you want to learn more about mindful eating and how to practice it, you can consider taking a course or seminar on the subject, reading up about it, or even looking into an app to help keep you on track.


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