Stop. Read this. Now read this slowly. S l o w l y. Now take a slow deep breath in and count “one.” Take a slow breath out and count “two.” Now repeat that three times. S l o w l y.
You’ve just had a mindful moment. It’s a real rarity in today’s busy, smartphone-obsessed world. And that’s a problem according to some health experts, because there’s growing evidence that adding more mindful moments to our lives may be good for overall health by helping us eat better and keep our weight in check.
While mindfulness may sound somewhat mystical, it’s really just the practice of slowing down, turning off as many distractions as possible, and focusing on the thing that is happening in front of us right at that moment. By doing this we’re able to more deeply appreciate each experience in our lives and to be more in tune with both our mind and body.
Overall, mindfulness has a lot of potential to help people make better food and eating choices. And it’s really quite easy to get started. Begin with the mindful eating tips below. If these spur you on, and you’re interested in exploring things more in-depth, there are a number of mindful eating books by reputable doctors and researchers.
- When you eat, just eat. Whether you’re eating alone or sitting down as a family, make sure all other distractions are limited. Turn off the television. Turn off the radio. Put down your phone. And definitely, get out of the car. This helps you to focus on the food and your experience of eating it. You’ll find you appreciate your food more and may actually feel like eating less of it.
- Take a moment. When you sit down to a meal — wherever you are — take some time to just be silent before you start eating. You don’t need to do anything. You don’t need to think anything. All you need to do is sit quietly. Whether it’s for five seconds or 60 seconds, taking that little bit of time can be a great way to rest your mind and focus on the food you’re about to enjoy.
- Eat slowly. Meals are meant to be savored — not rushed through. So slow down and enjoy your food; give your mind the chance to tell your stomach when it’s had enough.
- Choose smaller portions. Part of being mindful is appreciating what’s in front of us. When we do this with our food, you may find that you get as much satisfaction from a plate of smaller portions than a plate (or two) of larger portions.
- Appreciate water. There’s little in life that is more simple and straightforward than a glass of water. Take a long look at your next glass full and really appreciate it — what it looks like, what it tastes like, even what it feels like. It’s the healthiest thing you can drink and should be your main beverage choice every day.
Looking for more in-depth information on weight? Here are some good sources:
Centers for Disease Control
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
The Nutrition Source
Obesity Prevention Source
Siteman Cancer Center
Excerpted from TOGETHER — Every Woman’s Guide to Preventing Breast Cancer