How to Eat Mindfully

Hey Everyone!

This week I wanted to talk about being mindful and how that can effect unhealthy eating habits such as ‘binging’.  For most people its mild and we just get the urge to pig out on all our favourite food once in a while.  For others, binge eating could lead to a serious eating disorder.  So this week I wanted to share with you all the science behind why we so call ‘binge eat’ and my personal tips to try and stop and eat and live in a more mindful way.

Being mindful is something thats new to me.  I never really stopped to think about anything, and really experience what was going on around me. Ive lived most of my life in a state of anxiety and stress and now I feel like mindfulness has been my way of being able to switch my brain off.  9 months ago I started mindful meditation.  Step one was to download the Headspace app and once I became addicted I went and bought CD’s and books and started to really study it.  Im HOOKED, a complete nerd.  It’s completely changed my way of thinking in many ways.

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Someone important (can’t say their name) once told me that we should give our minds a rest every 2 hours or so, just like we give our bodies a rest.  We go to the gym or walk to the shops and afterwards we sit down with a cup of tea and really give our body a break.  Thats great, but if your anything like me as soon as I sit down my brain is filled with things I need to do, people I need to contact and worrying about my future and my family and it goes on and ON.  I didn’t actually realise that I was overthinking or suffered so much with anxiety because it was just the norm for me.  Until one day I did a 10 minute meditation and suddenly my brain stopped.  For once in my life my thoughts were quiet.

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Now you may be thinking what on earth does this have to do with eating?  The answer is EVERYTHING.  Some of you (I suspect all of you, even if you don’t know it) may have suffered with a little bit of ’emotional eating’.  This is when we eat loads or eat in a bad routine/junk food because we are stressed, sad, down or busy.  The reason why we do this is because when we eat foods that contain fat, sugar or we even see a new food that appeals to us our brain secrets a chemical called dopamine.  Dopamine becomes addictive, so when we are feeling a little down and our levels or dopamine and serotonin (another happy hormone) become low our brains way of boosting them is through food.  So we eat a ton of food and then we feel bad about it, which starts the whole cycle again. This is called a Lack of Mindfulness.

So what can we do to stop this?  There are many little tips I have found help with this.  One is to keep your fridge full of healthy food, so if you do emotionally eat at least you are eating healthy food rather than junk.  Next is to always make sure you have a good breakfast.  I know this is something you have all heard before but seeing as food makes us happy, eating a good breakfast starts our day on a happy note, meaning we are less likely to feel down later.  Breakfast really is THE most important meal of the day.  Thirdly DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP ABOUT IT.  I know this is probably the most difficult but if you say to yourself “oh well I will make sure to eat healthy for the rest of the day” it will help stop the cycle from happening again on repeat.  These tips are really helpful to a degree, but for me the most effective way of eating well and ignoring your emotions is to become mindful.

Dont panic.  This does not mean you have to go and be a mindfulness guru and study all about the mind.  NO NO.  You just have to do a few simple things.

  1. Before you eat do 1-3 minutes of breathing exercises.  This is when you close your eyes and think about the air flowing in and out of your body.  Try to really focus on where your breath is going, so down the throat in into the abdomen.  Try to vision your breath entering and leaving your body.  This INSTANTLY creates a state of peace within you so you won’t panic eat.
  2. Don’t rush eat.  I know its hard but take your time with your food.  Chew each mouthful and in your head list off the flavours you can taste and what the texture is like.  Almost over analyse your food.  This is so important as it teaches us to be grateful of what we are eating.

Thats it.  Just do these two things (along with headspace if you want) and you will see a HUGE difference in the way you eat and what you choose to eat.  Its really effective I promise you, and has broken habits that have been stuck with me for years and years.  I want to end this post with a quote by Jon Kabat Zinn (the founder of mindfulness) which is always in my mind, “you can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf”.

I hope this blog post was either interesting, helpful or both to you.  Give being mindful a go and let me know how you get on.  Good luck.

Love Georgie xxx