Ditch the guilt and enjoy eating mindfully

By author photo Karen Stafford

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Being on a weight loss journey doesn’t mean that you have to avoid certain foods while you watch others enjoy, or that you should feel guilty about certain food choices. Part of learning to have a healthy relationship with food is moving away from labelling foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, restricting foods you think are unhealthy and instead allowing yourself to enjoy all foods without feeling guilty. Eating well is so much more than just one meal or one days’ worth of eating. Allowing yourself permission to eat all foods without deprivation gives you a healthy, balanced mindset.

We’re here to tell you that you can enjoy the foods you love and you should never feel guilty for eating anything.

Here’s how to eat mindfully and enjoy your food.


1. Remove food labels and the worry about food

Sometimes we worry so much about a food we think is ‘bad’ that it distracts us from the actual experience of eating it and we barely register that we’ve eaten. By removing the guilt from eating a food it allows you to focus on actually eating and enjoying it. You can take your time and feel truly satisfied. By allowing yourself to eat a food and knowing that you can stop and go back another time, you are removing the feeling of deprivation which often leads to eating more than you originally planned. Depriving yourself only drives the desire to eat the food more and triggers that uncontrollable feeling that ‘if I start, I won’t be able to stop’. Part of the reason of feeling like you can’t stop is not knowing if you’ll ever be ‘allowed’ that food again. By giving yourself permission to eat all foods it helps remove the drive to overeat it now, as you know you can go back later, or the next day if you want.


2. Sit down to enjoy your food

We often eat standing up or on the run and don’t concentrate on what we are doing. This means sometimes you might not even register what you’ve eaten making it easy to eat a whole bag of chips without even realising it. So, take the time to enjoy your food by sitting at the table without distractions.


3. Slow it down and stop when you’re full

This sounds simple enough in theory but our fast-paced lives and the speed at which we eat has meant that many of us have lost the ability to truly tune into our hunger signals.
The over full feeling is often a trigger that brings on a feeling of guilt. So, by tuning into your body and knowing when to stop you can prevent this feeling and finish off having enjoyed your food and feeling satisfied. Follow these steps to slow down your eating:

• Start by taking a deep breath

• Take small bites

• Chew your food properly – depending on the food, give it 10-20 chews

• Take the time to notice the taste and texture

• Swallow and feel the food travelling from your mouth to your stomach

• Pause before taking another bite – put down the knife and fork or the food, take a sip of water, have a chat with others

• Notice your hunger level

• At the point you feel your hunger start to subside and you start to feel full, stop eating.

Instead of focusing on the fear of overindulging, focus on enjoying the foods you love and being in the present moment. If you do overindulge, know that it’s ok. Put it in perspective – it may have been just one meal or just one day which will not derail all your efforts. Most of all, enjoy the time with family and friends.

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