Mindful Eating Tips for the Family
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is not a diet. When we choose our foods based on a certain outcome like losing weight or an elimination diet,we are choosing our foods to deliver an outcome based expectation. Alternatively, mindful eating is a process-oriented behavior that focuses on the experience of the food in the moment. With mindful eating, you may choose what you eat, how much, and when. During this process-oriented behavior, take a second to put the fork down and experience food wholly - mind, body, and soul.
- Learn how food affects your moods and energy levels
- Rely on your body’s natural intelligence of knowing when you’re hungry
- Connect more deeply with your food
- Understand emotional attachments you have around food and eating.
- Increased enjoyment each meal - recognizing certain flavors in your meal
- Easier digestion.
- You control food. Food does not control you.
- Reduced Stress
How to Practice:
- Cook as a family. Getting the kids involved in preparing food is a great family activity and also gets them excited about what you’re eating because they got to help.
- Be present. Remove the temptation of television or a tablet while eating. Use mealtime as a way to slow down and enjoy the meal you’ve just prepared together.
- Be curious. Introduce new foods without assumptions of what your child will or won’t like. Identify a mood a certain food makes you feel.
- Make it fun. Start each meal with a sensory hunt. Share around the table what smells, colors, shapes, and textures you see and taste.
- Serve yourself. Allowing everyone to decide how much they do or don’t eat encourages them to learn how to listen to their own bodies needs. Don’t force anyone to finish their plate before leaving the table. This can disrupt them learning when they are and aren’t hungry naturally.
Mindful Eating for the Family:
Eating mindfully as a family creates a warm, caring and supportive environment. Make it a ritual of sitting down at the dining table for dinner each night so that your little ones recognize the pattern of “this is what we do when we are eating”. Teaching kids to eat mindfully creates a healthy relationship to food that they can carry with them for a lifetime.
Mindful eating is also a great tool if you have a picky eater. It nurtures a child’s natural curiosity about new foods creating an adventure each meal. It opens up a conversation for what they like and don’t like at that moment, as inevitably their tastes will change and grow. Life can get busy trying to manage work, family, and your personal interests so allow yourself to start small. Even just starting this routine 1x per week can help turn mindful eating into a habit. Make Mindful Mondays a thing the whole family looks forward to. Don’t overthink it too much, just have fun being in the moment!
“The most precious gift we can offer is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers”
Thich Nhat Hanh