Eat in silence
It might seem weird to tell your spouse or kids that you want to eat in silence, so consider asking them to hold off on conversation for just the first three to five minutes of the meal, which will give you a chance to zero in on the sensation of eating—the aromas, textures, and flavors, and how it feels to chew and swallow the food. Try getting them in on the mindful eating action: Ask everyone to say three words that describe their experience of the meal. Amidor cautions that it takes about six months to develop healthy habits and recommends focusing on only two or three mindful eating techniques at a time. “It’s also normal to fall off the wagon,” she says. “That’s all part of the process. Your job is shake it off and get back on track again.”
Understand mindful eating
Mindful eating is rooted in the practice of mindfulness, which is about staying in the moment, remaining conscious of everything you’re doing—the opposite of auto pilot. Mindful eating sounds simple—it involves being aware of how hungry you are and how much you’re eating—but anyone who’s ever curled up on the couch with a bag of chips only to plow through entire bag without paying attention knows it’s easier said than done. Annie B. Kay, lead nutritionist at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, says the trick to mindful eating is to go beyond simply thinking about what you eat and focus on how you’re paying attention to your eating. “It’s a type of meditation where you focus on the present moment, moment by moment, with a meditative attitude of non-judgment,” she says. Even if you’re a meditation novice, you can learn to eat mindfully. Here, Kay, along with Toby Amidor, nutritionist and author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day, share tips to help you re-frame your relationship with food for good.