We all experience food cravings from time to time. That sudden urge for something sweet after a meal or the constant nagging for salty snacks while watching TV. Giving in to these cravings can derail healthy eating goals. The key is learning how to manage cravings through mindful eating techniques.
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating means paying full attention to the eating experience – the tastes, smells, textures, and visual appeal of food. It means eating slowly, without distraction, and being fully present. This allows you to tune into physical hunger cues and empowers you to make conscious food choices.
Here are some mindful eating habits you can cultivate to take control over cravings:
Assess Your Hunger
Check in with your body before eating. Rate your hunger on a scale of 1-10. If you’re not truly hungry, the craving may be emotionally driven. Distract yourself with a short walk or hydrating with water.
Savor Each Bite
Instead of rushing through meals, take the time to thoroughly chew and taste each bite. Appreciate the flavors and textures. This satisfaction from mindful eating can eliminate the desire to overindulge.
Avoid eating while working, watching TV, or browsing on your phone. Make meals device-free zones to fully focus on food. The distraction of screens can lead to mindless overeating.
Opt for Healthy Substitutions
When a craving strikes, opt for a healthier version to satisfy your urge. For a sweet craving, try Greek yogurt topped with berries instead of candy. For salty cravings, grab a handful of roasted chickpeas versus potato chips.
Be mindful of portion sizes. Dish out proper servings onto a plate rather than eating straight from the package. It takes your brain about 20 minutes to register fullness – eating mindfully allows you to recognize it sooner.
Make Mindful Eating a Habit
Like any habit, mindful eating takes practice but it quickly becomes second nature. Set reminders to eat slowly and turn mealtimes into mini-meditations. Staying present when eating will help regulate cravings, improve your relationship with food, and lead to better health.
The next time you feel an urgent craving, take a pause. Check in with your body, assess your true hunger, and make a conscious decision on how to satisfy it. Mindful eating gives you control over food urges by heightening your awareness. With practice, it can be a simple but powerful way to rein in cravings.
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