The concept of mindfulness is focused on maintaining your health in a long lasting way rather than being on a strict diet.

Mindfulness fits into today’s food trends as it teaches us to living non-judgementally, it’s a way of learning to eat without guilt or judgement. Mindfulness helps us to check in with our hunger and body cues, we decide when we are hungry, how hungry are we and what kinds of foods to eat to nourish our body.

How can snacking and wellbeing co-exist?

We can be very fixated on what we should and shouldn’t be eating. Food is pleasurable and should be enjoyed. Removing any judgement to a food being ‘good’ or ‘bad’ makes life more pleasurable and enjoyable. Snacking can be enjoyed as a mindful moment each day.

Mindful eating and mindfulness is about appreciating all foods. There may be times where we need smaller snacks and other times where we need a more sustained snack. It’s all about the quality over the quantity. Savouring food leads to enhanced enjoyment which therefore results in smaller portions.

Potential challenges to mindful eating and snacking:

Mindfulness is easy to talk about but can be difficult to implement. Life tends to get in the way, as we are always busy. The less distracted you are when you eat you will naturally be more mindful. So we need to remove distractions like TV, phone, tablets. Finding a small amount of time to focus on one particular meal or snack per day is the key.

“Everyone fails at mindful eating, in fact knowing that you were not mindful in that particular moment is being mindful” Tim Crowe. Embrace being terrible at it, everybody is generally bad at mindful eating, focus on the exercise itself and it will be a more positive experience. Maree summed this statement up quite well, ‘We should all be more mindful about being mindful’.

Christina highlighted there are two main distractions or triggers to mindful eating,

  1. Emotional: This includes thoughts and feelings such as guilt, sadness, boredom. These feelings can make us eat in a mindless way.
  2. Environment: Includes technology, leftovers after dinner, unexpected foods in workplace at a meeting. Emotional and environmental triggers are stopping us from listening to internal signals such as hunger, fullness and satisfaction. The difficulty is remembering to practice mindfulness in these situations.

Tips and resources to adopting mindful eating:

Christina mentioned we should all be checking in on hunger before a meal or snack: how hungry are you? If you are hungry, think about what kinds of foods you need to eat.

A lot of dietitians in the mindful eating space use the analogy of thinking about the body as a car. You may see the fuel gauge is ¾ full so you drive past the petrol station, or maybe petrol is a bit lower so you pull over. The next decision is to consider how much and what kind of fuel your car needs.

Whether it’s a meal or a snack approach eat moment in a calm manner. This generally involves linking in with your senses (touch, taste, smell). Smelling the food, exploring the texture in your mouth, chewing slowly, ensuring you are assessing and savouring the flavours. Connect with your senses to get the enjoyment out of your meal.

Tim’s tips to adopting mindful eating were to apply it to one particular meal or snack per day. Tim recommends that we all should Google ‘mindfully eating a raisin’ this exercise is a small step forward with mindful eating. He states that this is actually a mind-blowing experience to realise the sensation you can get from eating one small piece of food – it’s a nice example of what you can do with mindfulness. It shows you that any particular food can be enjoyed and savoured. The idea of mindfulness is that you appreciate the current moment without any judgement what to so ever.

What tools and resources are available to adopt mindful eating?

  1. Your smartphone apps can be used to your benefit, some apps to try:
  • buddhify app
  • smiling mind app
  • mindfulness app
  • headspace app
  • calm app
  • there are many general mindful eating apps available
  1. Meditation can help us to be more mindful throughout the day
  2. Hunger scale: check in with your hunger, how hungry are you on a scale on 1-10. This can help you to be more aware of the eating experience.

Take Home Messages:

Tim recommended to focus on one particular meal or snack to be mindful about each day, pick a food which engages you. Tim finds muesli bars work well for him, it could be chocolate or a pear. It should be something you enjoy being mindful with. The secret to success is to keep consciously repeating and repeating these mindful eating exercises.

Christina says her one main point would be to focus on gratitude, the idea of bringing the enjoyment back to eating. Making the meal the most enjoyable experience as possible and giving thanks for the food your eating.