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Use This Mindful Eating Placemat to Remember to Slow Down and Enjoy Your Food

by | Oct 19, 2016

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Eating mindfully is without a doubt one of the most difficult habits to acquire, because by definition if you aren’t being mindful then you aren’t aware of it.

For this reason I have recommended embedding triggers into your eating habits to remind yourself to pay attention to the act of eating. That way even if you are in a distracted or in a preoccupied state of mind you can be pulled out of it and brought back to awareness of the present moment for long enough to regain control of your attention.

Why is this important, you ask? Let me count the ways.

First, for most of us our eating habits are already deeply ingrained. That means that consistently choosing anything outside our normal habits requires awareness of our actions so we can intentionally choose a different course. Whether you have the habit of ordering a burger every time you go out with colleagues for lunch or eating the leftovers out of your kid’s lunchbox, mindless eating is often the instigator and reinforcer of your most unhealthy food habits.

Second, for many of us food isn’t just a source of fuel or pleasure. Instead we use it to avoid uncomfortable thoughts and emotions. We eat to intentionally forget ourselves, and in these moments we almost never choose foods that will make us feel good afterward. Mindfulness is the first step in breaking this pattern of emotional eating, because it is only when you’re aware that you are acting out a self-defeating pattern that you have any chance of choosing a different path.

Third, even if you have a habit of choosing real, unprocessed foods, overeating can still prevent you from achieving your health and weight loss goals. When you eat mindlessly you can easily fall prey to all the cues in your eating environment that trigger you to consume more than you need, including bigger plates, bright lights, fast music, ravenous dining partners and the duration of your favorite show. Mindful eating puts you back in touch with your own needs and desires, and can break the pattern of overeating.

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