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By Federika Garcia Muchacho and Meaghan Sutherland

womaninrefrHave you ever felt like you are eating or craving some foods when you aren’t even hungry? Do you go right to the fridge or pantry when you’re feeling stressed? Do you try to multitask when you eat, instead of savoring your food?  If so, you’re not alone!

Eating when we are stressed, bored, or looking for a distraction, or not paying attention to what we’re eating is called mindless eating.

Mindless eating often causes us to overeat. (We’ve all been there with that bag of chips on the couch!)  This can happen when we are eating with our emotions rather than listening to our body and hunger cues.

On the other hand, the practice of mindful eating is when we eat while we are in touch with all of our senses.  Mindful eating can help us learn to recognize when we are actually hungry and prevent us from eating because of stress or boredom. Eating mindfully can also help reduce our stress levels, as well as help us reach and maintain a healthy weight!

Everyone can eat mindfully, even children! There are simple techniques you can learn and use every day. Practicing these techniques with your kids and during family dinners is a great way to start. Ready for a challenge? Each week, try one of the following mindful eating tips below to get more in touch with your body and all of your senses!

  1. Recognize triggers, such as stress and tiredness, which might lead you to eat even if you are not hungry. Instead, try going for a walk, reading a book or playing with your children.
  2. Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full.
  3. Eat slowly. Practice chewing each bite 20 times before swallowing.
  4. Use the fullness scale below to find your comfortable level of fullness and listen to your body’s cues.
  5. Encourage family meals and put away the electronics when you are sitting down to eat–focus on your family instead!
  6. Use all of your senses to see, smell, feel, and taste, and your food!

Paying attention to your senses and cues is part of the puzzle, but enjoying what and when you eat is also important. Remember that eating starts with the letter E, like the word enjoyment!  Avoid self-blame or judging yourself over food.  It is all about balance and moderation! For more information, visit http://thecenterformindfuleating.org/

Federika Garcia Muchacho is a dietetic intern at Simmons College

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Nutrition Education Specialist for the Massachusetts WIC Program

Nutrition Education Specialist for the Massachusetts WIC Program

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