Summer: A Great Time to Practice Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is a practice, and like many others, I could use a little more practice. Eating slower often means more satisfaction with the food we eat. We enjoy it more, and it fills us up in many ways.

When we eat quickly, we don’t really taste what we are eating, and we don’t give our body enough time to send the chemical signals that it needs to send to tell us that we have had enough. As a result, many of us end up eating too much and feeling overfull. Eating mindfully also reminds us to slow down, pay attention, and chew our food well, which supports digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Summer is the perfect time of year to rekindle the practice of mindful eating. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Foods taste best when we eat them seasonally
Nothing beats the flavor of food when you eat it seasonally. During the summer months, fruits and vegetables are vibrant, often juicy, and sometimes sweet. The textures and colors are interesting and beautiful. Have you had nectarines or cherries lately?

2. Supports hydration
For most of us, the weather heats up during the summer. When we are not paying attention, it can be easy to confuse hunger signals with dehydration. Mindful eating helps us pay attention and reconnect with our bodies so that we can tell the difference between hunger and thirst, hydrating when we are thirsty, and eating when we are hungry. This seems obvious, but how many times have you felt your energy dip and go grab a handful of crackers or some other snack food?  Some of the signs of low-grade dehydration are similar to the signs of hunger, such as fatigue, sugar cravings, and light-headedness.

3. Keeps us focused on our goals
Longer days and a slightly more relaxed schedule can lead to irregular eating habits and/or more snacking. If we are trying to reach specific nutrition or health goals like 25-38 grams of fiber (25+ for women and 30-38 grams for men, depending on age), specific protein goals, and/or eating 7-9 servings a day of colorful fruits and vegetables, eating a lot of snacks can make it challenging to reach those goals. Mindful eating helps us eat more intentionally when we are truly hungry.

4. Encourages outdoor eating
Summer is the time of year when we can eat outside. When I eat outside by myself, I tend to pay more attention to my food and the rhythms around me. It naturally slows down my eating. I often like to eat lunch on my patio. The sun is way too bright to see my phone. I can often see bees in the rosemary, and when I listen carefully, I can hear a symphony of birds. When I eat outside with friends and family, I notice that I tend to really pay attention to the conversation, enjoy the social connection, and stay present, which also helps support mindful eating. For those of us who work at home, eating outside can also be a way to change the environment and let go of work-related thoughts, giving us a much-needed break.

How to Practice Mindful Eating
Sometimes, it is hard to slow down on our own. A few simple things we can try to help build our mindful eating practice include:

  • Noticing the colors, shapes, textures, and smells of the food on the plate before our first bite;
  • Taking a deep breath or two before starting to eat to calm our nervous system. It makes the whole meal more enjoyable and easier to digest;
  • Putting the fork or spoon down between bites or eating with our non-dominant hand;
  • Chewing our food well, really tasting each bite.

Next Steps
This week, I am making an effort to sit quietly at the table when I eat so that I can focus more fully on my eating. I invite you to join me.

Have you been thinking about making some diet and lifestyle changes but keep putting it off? Now is a great time to recommit to your goals and take a look at your diet in the bigger context of your overall health and wellness. Is your diet working for you? Do you feel energetic and clear-headed? Are your digestion, joints, blood sugar, circulatory system, hormones, and mood all grooving? If not, let’s set up a time to talk.

Book an exploratory call (for new clients) or a follow-up visit (for existing clients) at book an appointment.