How Mindfulness Can Aid Your Wellness Goals
The term “mindfulness” is everywhere lately, but far from a generic buzzword, practicing mindfulness is actually an incredibly helpful psychological tool. Used for defeating anxiety, lowering blood pressure, and relieving sleep disorders, practicing mindfulness simply means focusing your awareness on the current moment and rationally recognizing your feelings and thoughts.
As mindfulness techniques gain popularity, we’re seeing them used to help people achieve their wellness goals and reduce bad habits and negative thought patterns people have around food and eating.
Let’s look at some simple mindfulness techniques that can help you overcome your obstacles and meet your wellness goals.
What Is Mindful Eating
Have you ever stood in the pantry with a bag of chips, crunching away while you’re looking for ingredients to make dinner? Or sat in front of the tv with a carton of ice cream and not realizing what you’re doing until the spoon hits cardboard?
More than likely you didn’t really taste what you were eating, and you didn’t even recognize whether you wanted it or were full. Not paying attention or eating while distracted can sabotage healthy eating plans, but by practicing mindful eating, you can put a stop to distracted snacking.
To eat mindfully, you simply have to be aware and attentive to how and what you’re eating, listening to your intuition, and engaging all your senses. Notice when you’re feeling full. Get in touch with why you want to eat. Think about how your food truly tastes and smells. How does it look? How do you feel while you’re eating it?
By opening up your awareness, you are less likely to rush through your meal so you’re attuned to your fullness cues, but more importantly, you’re more likely to make better eating choices to start and follow more sensible portion control because you’ll realize what you’re doing.
If you’re struggling with cravings for ice cream, chips, or other unhealthy foods, practice what is called urge surfing.
- Tune into how your body feels during this craving
- Think about what your mind is telling you
- Instead of wishing away the craving or giving into it, simply accept it without judging yourself. Recognize that the craving will subside, and take deep breaths until it passes.
Many people turn to food during emotional difficulties, like when they’re sad, stressed, or battling low self-esteem. Instead of turning to food, try this technique to balance your emotions:
- Close your eyes and put a name to the emotion you are feeling.
- Practice slow, relaxed breathing as you name the different emotions that course through you – anger, annoyance, sadness, loneliness – and accept them without judgement.
- Picture yourself releasing these negative emotions
By being aware and accepting of your emotions and understanding that it’s okay to feel your feelings, you’ll be less likely to turn a sad mood into a binge that will leave you feeling worse.
Get In Touch With Your Hunger
Before you reach for a snack or grab a roll out of the bread basket at a restaurant, ask yourself why you are eating, and really think about what your answer is. Many prompts to eat are because of reasons like social (“Everyone else is getting a roll!”), habitual (“I always eat at 11:30!”) or emotional (“I had a salad, I deserve a piece of cake!”).
If you pause before you eat and really focus on what your body is telling you, you’re more likely to make sensible choices based on your physical needs. You’ll focus more on nourishing and fueling your body and meeting your social and emotional needs in other, non-food related ways.
Because mindful eating allows you to focus on the experience of food and being aware of how your body and mind feel as you eat, you want to eliminate all distractions. Instead of playing on your phone or eating while you work, make each meal an experience.
If you’re tuned in to your meal, you can be fully attentive of whether or not you’re enjoying what you eat, you are more aware of when you’re full, and you will feel more satisfied when you’re done. Even better, you’ll be more aware of your portions, and avoid eating well past the point of fullness.
Enjoying Your Food
When you choose to lose weight or focus more on health, do you tell yourself you can’t be trusted around ice cream, that you can’t stop once you start eating chips, or that a single cookie knocks you off your entire plan? With mindful eating, you can build in “treats” and feel confident that you know when to stop. Instead of diving into a carton of ice cream while watching tv, you can make eating a small dish an enjoyable sensor experience and move on without stress or guilt.
For more mindfulness techniques to help you live a healthier life and experience better success toward your wellness goals, join MiCoachee! Our innovative digital coaching platform provides you with customized behavior modification techniques to help you overcome your weight loss and fitness obstacles so you can stay motivated, focused, and experience better results!