Here at Hip & Healthy, we always encourage you, our lovely readers, to experiment and find what works best for you when it comes to diet and exercise. You’ll never find us preaching one particular dietary modality or exercise routine as we strongly believe that every single body is unique. Whilst this is the case, there is one thing that we believe everyone should adopt, and that is a mindful eating practise. With Christmas just around the corner, we caught up with psychologist Elaine Slater to chat more about the benefits of mindful eating.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is intentional, non-judgemental awareness of moment-to-moment experience. Mindfulness encourages focussing on the present rather than being consumed by the difficulties of the past or anxiety over the future. It is about tuning out the white noise to see the present moment clearly.

Which areas of our lives can being more mindful positively influence? And how?

Mindfulness is being aware of your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations in the present moment. It cultivates the possibility of freeing yourself from reactive, habitual patterns of thinking, feeling and acting. Mindfulness promotes balance, choice, wisdom and an acceptance of how things are. Mindfulness increases self-awareness and develops emotional intelligence.

Let’s talk about mindful eating – what is it and how can we practise it?

Mindful eating – also known as intuitive eating is not a diet, it is more about how you eat than what you eat. It involves paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking. Being more aware of your eating habits, the sensations you experience when you eat, and the emotions and thoughts that you have about food.

What are the leading causes of mindless eating? 

Mindless eating occurs when our head is full of chatter, when we are distracted by our hectic daily lives and generally operating on autopilot. Most often inhaling our food without chewing properly or appreciating the taste or flavour of our meal. Eating is often slotted into our busy schedules with a quick bite at our desk, or en route to our next commitment or whilst juggling childcare.

Mindless eating enables emotional eating. Emotional eating overrides sensations of being hungry or full in order to provide comfort and relief for negative and difficult feelings.

What are your top 3 tips for beginning a mindful eating practise?

Tip 1. 

Mindful eating is fundamentally about rebuilding a relationship with our food. The aim of mindful eating is to base our meals on physical cues, such as hunger, not emotional ones – like eating for comfort.

Tip 2. 

Eat intentionally, slowly and without distractions – chew every mouthful approximately thirty times. Pay attention to the colour, smell, texture, flavour and temperature of your food.

Tip 3.

Know the story behind your food; who grew this? Where did it come from? How did it get here?

Elaine Slater is a Psychologist and Psychotherapeutic Counsellor. She is registered with The United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy and is a member of The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy www.elaineslater.com

Interview by Zsa Zsa Vella

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