Mindful Eating – How to Do It | TMOHP Episode 109

Consider this the companion to last week’s episode, episode 108: Q&A Is Multitasking When I Eat Bad. Last week we covered the ins and outs of multitasking when you eat and why I recommend you experiment with mindful eating. This episode is where I share what this looks like in practice. I’m going to walk you through a step-by-step process for mindful eating. One that’s do-able, simple, and that you can use to learn more about what you need to create freedom from overeating and emotional eating.

In this episode:

  • When was the last time you were fully present when you ate?
  • How to eat a mindful meal (or a mindful piece of Halloween candy)
  • The goal of mindful eating
  • When to play with mindful eating


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Full episode transcript:

Hello everybody, I hope you're having a wonderful week. This episode is a continuation of the conversation that I had with you last week, which was episode 108 the Q and A about multitasking when you're eating, and is it a problem? Is it bad for you? So maybe you've listened to the previous podcast episode and you decided that there are indeed some times when multitasking when you eat isn't helpful for you.

Maybe you found something in that episode that I shared about mindful eating that was compelling to you. Maybe that research that I shared that people who eat a mindful meal experience fullness faster, are more satisfied, and also eat less. Maybe that was appealing. And so maybe you want to try this whole mindful eating thing, but you really aren't sure what it means, or how you do it, or what it looks like. What do you do?

Today I'm going to break that down for you. This is a totally practical episode on how to experiment with mindful eating and how to eat a mindful meal. Now, if you missed episode 108, I'll put the link to that in the show notes, and it is perfectly okay to listen to the episodes out of order.

You don't need to listen to that one first. Although if you feel a little in the dark about any of this, you might want to. Okay? And by the way, you can use this episode to experiment with a meal. Or with any eating. This episode will actually be published the week before Halloween.

Aha! Big bags of individually wrapped candy, anyone? Bowls of candy corn around your house? These things tend to be a recipe for eating on autopilot. And overeating mindlessly. The kind of eating that has regret after it. Or, I enjoyed a few but I can't believe I ate half the bag. You know, that kind of thing. So if it appeals to you, you can use this mindful eating experiment that I'm going to walk you through with one piece or a few pieces of Halloween candy. You can see what happens there. All right?

So any eating you can, you can play with mindful eating with any episode or experience of eating. Now before we dive in, I think it's also worth being honest with yourself by asking honestly, when the last time was that you were fully present with the meal that you were eating?

And I want you to really think about this because fully present is the key here. Fully present means that the TV wasn't on. It means that you didn't have a book or a computer screen in front of you. You weren't working or making lists of things to do after you got done eating. You weren't driving somewhere. You weren't scrolling on your phone.

When was the last time that you were fully aware with all of your senses of each and every bite that you put into your mouth? When was the last time that you truly savored every last morsel? When you were 100 percent aware of what you were feeling and what you were experiencing while you ate the food? Throughout the entire experience, not just the first part of the meal and then it faded off. Throughout the entire experience.

I am not for a moment suggesting that all of your eating should feel this way. But there is some value to be tuned in and to tuning in like this periodically. So, that's what we're going to try in this episode. And again, if you haven't listened to the previous episode, episode 108 the Q& A episode about whether multitasking when you eat is bad, it is a companion to this one.

I recommend that you listen to it as well because I think it will help you. And I think it will most importantly help you approach this with a non-perfectionistic mindset. And it will also help answer the question, why are you talking about this? Why are we even talking about how to eat a mindful meal? Okay? So I've set the groundwork.

Let us talk about how specifically to eat a mindful meal. This is, this is what a mindful meal practice that you can play with looks like. All right?

So the first thing you want to do is just take a deep breath or two. Take a deep breath or two and allow yourself to really be in your body. Notice what's going on inside your body. Notice how your mind and your body are feeling. Really notice. Tune inward. It will not be at all unusual if at the time that you sit down to do this, you have gone hours, maybe even days without really paying attention.

What are you feeling physically? What's going on in your mind? What emotions are you experiencing? And, and again physically, how does your body feel? Are you tense or relaxed? How hungry are you? And if you have hunger, where do you feel it in your body? What does it physically feel like? Tune in. Just take some breaths, slow things down and notice what's going on before you even start. Okay?

Now what you want to do is take whatever it is you're going to eat, put it on a plate or in a bowl and then find somewhere to sit where you can be undisturbed. Where you can enjoy your food without being distracted.

The key is to really tune in. And so, part of what you are going to want to do is slow things down. Right? Again, you're not doing this every single meal. This is an experiment. So, take a few more deep breaths. Before you do anything, just, you've got your food, you're in a comfortable place, you're tuning into how you're feeling, what's going on in your body, what's going on with your thoughts.

The goal of mindful eating is to try to fully experience every molecule of this meal. It's an aspirational goal. You want to try to fully experience. You want to savor every molecule of this meal. The goal is to use all of your senses and be aware of all of your senses. Slow down.

Notice your food before you put it in your mouth. Smell it, see it, think about the experience that you anticipate before your taste buds encounter what you're eating. And then take a small bite. And as you take that bite, take the time to feel the food in your mouth and to really taste it. Maybe taste it on different places in your tongue. Right? We have different taste buds in different places.

Stop and consider what you are tasting. Move that food around in your mouth. Feel the texture of it. Appreciate the flavor, the smell. Really chew your food. Do you know how often we eat without really chewing our food? Chew it or let it melt in your mouth. If it's that kind of food. Take your time.

Another goal of a mindful eating experience is to fully experience yourself. Not just the food, but to fully experience you eating this meal. And this might be a really new experience.

You really want to give yourself permission to be curious here. Be aware, just collect data about how it feels to slow down. How it feels to savor. There are no right answers here, and you might actually be surprised at emotions that come up.

You might find out all sorts of things. You might find that you have developed a pattern of eating mindlessly that actually is designed to keep you less aware of your thoughts and feelings. Or maybe you have developed a pattern of eating while you're multitasking so you can overeat without really thinking about it. Do not judge what you notice, just be aware.

And then as you eat slowly, what I want you to do is to pause after each bite and actually consider whether you'd like another. Pause after each bite and ask yourself, do I want another bite?

As you pay attention, notice throughout the meal, if it's a full meal, notice how your hunger changes. Notice when you stop savoring. Notice if the taste changes, if there's a place where it doesn't taste as good as it did. Notice if you start to feel impatient with this whole mindful eating thing. That's okay. You're just collecting data.

And if it feels uncomfortable or if you really don't like it, or if you want to be less present or you feel like you want to rush and hurry up and just finish eating. I want you to be curious about that too, because isn't it curious how attached we can get to eating and overeating and emotional eating and yet not give ourselves the gift of really enjoying this thing that we are telling ourselves is so important to us. Right?

So as you practice mindful eating, you are likely to notice things about your eating and about your relationship with food and your relationship with yourself that aren't really about food at all. You are going to notice more feelings. You are going to notice more thoughts, more physical sensations.

You may become more aware of a discomfort around being present. And again, I'm just going to keep reiterating, this is an experiment. Be curious, as much as you can be. Be nonjudgmental. And just keep thinking, I'm collecting data. Isn't this interesting? This is what my experience is like.

Another thing that may come up for you as you play with mindful eating and eating without multitasking is that you might discover Some things that are lacking or things that are missing. By that I mean, you might discover that being mindless and just kind of not paying attention when you eat has been a way of hiding or numbing things that you may need new tools for. Or new tactics because you don't know what to do with them other than push them down or push them away or use food to distract yourself. Right?

And so one of the things that can happen when you practice eating a mindful meal or when you practice having a mindful eating experience is that you start to become aware of things you may need so that you can change this habit of overeating or emotional eating in the long term.

I just want to proactively tell you if this comes up for you, because this comes up a lot for people in the Missing Peace Program, that it is really important to remind yourself and remind your brain that when you learn more about what you're lacking, or when you learn more about what you don't know how to do, or when you learn more about what you need that you don't have, this is not a failure. It is actually a big, crucial, actually, step toward solving the problem.

Because when you start to see, ah, this is why I've been doing it. This is what I need, or this is the, the feeling that I have that I don't know what, I don't know what to do with this feeling. Then you can start solving for that problem. Then you can start solving for the things that take your power back from overeating and from emotional eating. Okay?

Also, last thing, I talked about this in episode 108, but we can never talk enough about perfectionism. So, let me say again and again and again, it is not necessary and it's probably not practical to practice this kind of mindful eating every single time you eat.

I would roll my eyes if somebody suggested that to me too. But it can be very worthwhile to experiment with mindful eating. To learn from the experience of being present with your eating. And in the beginning, it might be worthwhile to practice eating mindfully at least once a day. Even if it's a part of a meal.

Many, many, many members of Your Missing Peace have found it helpful to identify the periods of eating that are the least mindful for them. The most problematic for them. Maybe the periods where they are most tending to overeat. And then use these mindful eating techniques specifically during these times.

It is really hard to solve for something that you don't understand. And playing with mindful eating, playing with not multitasking when you're eating, slowing down, tuning into yourself can go a long way toward helping you understand your overeating or your emotional eating.

And of course, if you want more help taking control of these things, if you want more tools. If you want the tactics to use, when you start to get clear on what's going on, what you're feeling, what you're needing, come check out Your Missing Peace. We can work on this together.

I'll talk to you soon.

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Your Missing Peace is the psychologist-designed program that provides the tools, the support, the coaching, and the confidence to create freedom from emotional eating and overeating. Finally - emotional eating help done right! Your Missing Peace is specifically designed for smart, high-achieving women who are DONE with diets, who want a lasting solution, and who are ready to take their power back from food, from overeating, and the scale. 

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