Want to nourish yourself better and build consistent healthy eating habits, but it feels like a constant struggle?
- Maybe you find yourself always hungry or battling strong cravings?
- Afternoon snacking has become a regular habit that’s hard to break?
- Or feeling tired and sluggish throughout the day?
When you lack an understanding of what’s causing these challenges, it becomes difficult to find solutions and take action to support yourself better. To try to figure out where to start to figure this out, try this mindful eating exercise. It will help you develop awareness around your eating behaviors, providing clarity on the support you need.
With this, you may be able to identify where you might need more help and discover what’s working well for you so you can feel confident in your choices.
Remember, there’s no “good” or “bad,” “right” or “wrong” here. The purpose is to raise awareness without shame, guilt, or self-condemnation. You can try journaling your answers to these questions for a day, a week, or even a month to try and see if you can find the root of the issue.
“Many of the habits that drive overeating are unconscious behaviors that people have repeated for years, and they act them out without even realizing it.” – Michelle May, MD
Why do I eat?
Often, we eat in response to genuine physical hunger, a sensation we can feel in our bodies. However, various other factors influence our eating behaviors.
For instance, emotions like stress or boredom might lead us to eat, even when we aren’t physically hungry. Social situations centered around food can also trigger eating, as can the mere sight of tempting snacks in our surroundings, despite lacking hunger pangs.
Recognizing the multitude of reasons why we eat is essential, and none of these reasons are inherently right or wrong. While we aim to let physical hunger guide our choices, what truly matters is being mindful of our decisions.
Imagine you’ve had a busy and stressful day at work, and as you return home, you find yourself reaching for a bag of chips without much thought. In this situation, your eating choice is influenced by emotional stress rather than genuine physical hunger.
The intention here is not to judge the choice of eating chips but rather to bring awareness to the underlying motivation. By recognizing that stress is the trigger, you can make a more intentional decision. Instead of mindlessly munching on chips, you might take a moment, engage in deep breathing, or opt for a healthier snack that still provides comfort and satisfaction without resorting to emotional eating.
When do I eat?
As you ask yourself this question, you might discover how satisfying your meals are at different times of the day or if you tend to get super hungry around a specific time. It could also shine a light on whether you find yourself eating out of boredom, stress, or other emotions during particular moments.
It’s like a little time-travel through your day, just to see how your eating habits unfold and what triggers those cravings.
What do I eat?
Just take a moment to think about the kinds of foods you enjoyed today. No judgments here, just a little food awareness check!
- Did you get the good stuff you needed to feel energized and satisfied?
- Did you also treat yourself to something that you were craving?
This is not about going towards “clean eating”, but rather finding that sweet spot where you eat mindfully and enjoy a variety of foods that make you feel good inside and out!
How do I eat?
- Were you slow and mindful, savoring every bite?
- Or did you feel rushed, gobbling down your food in a hurry?
- Did you find yourself easily distracted while eating?
Really though, we won’t always be able to be in a Zen-like state while eating. But becoming aware of your eating habits, especially how present or absent-minded you feel during meals, can be a game-changer.
The key is to explore little ways to add some mindfulness to your meals so you can truly experience and enjoy them. Even if it’s just a few moments of being present with your food, it can make a difference.
How much do I eat?
When eating, it’s important to pay attention to the physical sensations in your body.
- Do you feel satisfied and content, or did you feel hungry again just an hour after your last meal?
- Maybe you went a little overboard and now feel uncomfortably full. Did anything you ate upset your stomach or leave you feeling low on energy?
- Did you genuinely enjoy what you ate, or was it just meh? Did any guilt pop up after your meal?
Becoming mindful of how your body and emotions respond to different foods is important. It’s like getting to know what your unique body wants and needs. And even better, this awareness will boost your confidence when it comes to making choices that suit you best.
Try to embrace the amount of food that makes you feel fantastic. Trust yourself. If you slow down and listen, your body will guide you.
Where do I eat?
The food environment can have a significant impact on our eating habits. Being aware of where you eat most often and how it affects your choices can give you some eye-opening insights into your habits.
Just take a moment to reflect on your usual eating spots.
Do you eat at your desk? In the car? In front of the TV?
No judgment here, just a little food for thought! Understanding where you eat most frequently can help you make mindful adjustments and embrace healthier choices even in the busiest of moments.
After you have recorded your answers for a few days, take a moment to review your journal and identify any patterns.
Did you notice something like you often reach for snacks in the afternoon when you feel stressed or bored? This could be an indication that you’re using these snacks as a coping mechanism for emotional triggers.
Did you notice that you tend to eat larger portions during dinner when dining with friends or family? This might suggest that you’re influenced by social situations, leading to different eating behaviors.
Being more aware of these habits, routines, and patterns can empower us to change our current eating experiences to better align with the life that we want to live!