How can you spot a mindful eater when you see one? They do several unique things when they eat. These behaviors seem simple but often take practice. If you want to brush up on your mindful eating skills, start with these!
1) Mindful eaters are picky eaters. Choosy and intentional may be better words to describe the way they eat. Mindful eaters really taste food and if they don’t like it, they don’t eat it, just like picky eaters. Also, they aren’t afraid to tailor food to their particular taste. At restaurants, they often ask the waiter to make a few tweaks to their order.
2) Mindful don’t eat until they are “full.” Full is an overused term. Mindful eaters tend to eat until they are no longer hungry or satisfied. There is a big difference. By the time you perceive yourself to be “full,” it is often too late, you’ve overeaten.
3) Mindful eaters pace themselves. This is not easy. We live in a world that stresses us to get it done yesterday; eating is no exception. Mindful eaters tell themselves to “slow down” or at least try to check in with their pace.
4) Mindful eaters are forgiving and flexible. Yes, mindful eaters overeat on occassion! What they don’t do is obsess and beat themselves up as much. They know that tomorrow is another day and can “let it go.” They tend to adjust their behavior in their next meal or snack. All you have control over is right NOW.
5) Mindful eaters tend to gauge their hunger first before taking a bite. Being in the moment and fully present is key. Taking a moment to briefly do a hunger scan can help you know when you are about to take a giant leap into emotional eating.
6) Mindful eaters break out of old habits. When you know what habits keep you stuck (like multitasking when you eat or nibbling when anxious), you can devote more energy and attention to these particular areas. Sometimes it is changing how you eat more than what you eat.
These are just a few elements to mindful eating. New research on mindful eating continues to emerge such as a 2013 study in the journal of Appetite by Beshara, Hutchinson & Wilson. The researchers found that participants with higher levels of mindfulness were more mindful eaters and reported smaller serving size estimates. Studies have also shown mindful eating to reduce weight and BMI (body mass index) (Dalen et al. 2012, Framson et al., 2009, Tapper et al., 2009 and Timmerman & Brown 2012)
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Dr. Susan Albers is a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic and the author of six books on mindful eating including Eat.Q: Unlock the Weight Loss Power of Emotional Intelligence. She has been quoted in the New York Times, Self, O Magazine, Shape, Fitness, and on the Dr. Oz show. www.eatq.com