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7 Ways to Practice Mindful Eating

Restore that balance and sense of satisfaction in food and eating

By Samantha Yarde

Caught up in our day-to-day, we’ve forgotten how to slow down, be present and what that even feels like.

Mindfulness is simply defined as attending (through awareness) to the here and now, to what you’re doing and why. Today, mindfulness has become a popular topic. So much so that it has led to discussions around Mindful Eating; something I’m sure many believe they don’t have time for.

According to Jan Chozen Bays, MD, author of Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food, the mind has two distinct functions which is thinking and awareness1. When we are caught up with thinking, awareness (a fundamental part of mindfulness) goes down.

Coming from personal experience, I myself have realized that when I’m not fully present when and with what I’m eating, I tend not to feel truly full. Ultimately, I have lost a sense of connection and true enjoyment of eating, especially when half of the time I’m scoffing down snacks and lunch, 5 days of the week. 

Sadly, we’ve become a generation that takes food for granted. Mindful eating allows us to restore that balance and sense of satisfaction in food and eating. Below is a list of 7 ways you can practice mindful eating, as well as with your kids:   

1. Eat and serve nutritionally healthy food options
When shopping for food, select from a wide and diverse range of healthy food options such as fruits & berries, vegetables, nuts & seeds, whole-grains & legumes and organic options. Serve these wholesome options for kid’s snacks, lunches and dinners.

2. Try different types of foods 
Learn, explore and try various types, flavours and textures of foods. Did you know, babies begin to learn about foods from before they are born. While in the womb, babies taste what the mother eats, resulting in a preference for certain foods and flavours after they are born. As well, research has suggested that it takes many tries before a child accepts a new food, so be mindful of this. 

3. Focus only on eating
Slow down, eliminate distractions, enhance your awareness and explore eating with all your senses.

4. Enjoy meals with others, at specific times and places
Allocate specific time for family meals, even if it’s 3 times a week. Focus on the present and presence of each other. Limit distractions such as from electronics and enjoy one another’s company. Learn together. Talk about the process that it took for the food to get to your plate. How is a tomato or rice grown?

5. Think and discuss where your food comes from & explore gardening at home
Whether in the grocery store or sitting down for dinner, take some time to talk with your kids about the different parts of the world food comes from. You can sometimes find this on the sticker of fruits or on the back of food packaging. Take a shot at growing your own fruits and vegetables and explore with kids the process from beginning (planting the seed) to end (when it reaches the dinner table).

6. Learn to eat based on your body’s signal of hunger and satiety
Become familiar with the signs your body gives you when you are hungry and when you are full. Trust in your child’s ability in learning how to tell when they are hungry or full as well. Serve appropriate portions and allow them the opportunity to request for more. 

 7. Be mindful of the relationship that is established with food 
Foster your own and your child’s healthy relationship with food by making eating an enjoyable experience from the start. By recognizing and respecting the cues and signs your body gives you will prevent overeating, frustration and builds positive eating habits. Building a child’s healthy relationship with food is fundamental to lifelong development that all begins with You!  

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1 Bays, Jan Chozen. Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food. Shambhala, 2017. 

Samantha Yarde is a Registered Early Childhood Educator from Toronto who has been working with children and families for 7 years. She currently holds an Honours Bachelor in Child Development and is pursuing a Master of Arts in Early Childhood Studies. Samantha is a guest writer for Smoov, sharing her expertise, experience and tips, specifically pertaining to the healthy development and well-being of children. 

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