Mindful Eating & Eating with Others
Eating well is more than just what foods you eat. It is being mindful of your eating habits, taking time to eat and noticing when you feel hungry or full. Food often brings people together, and there are many benefits to eating with others. Check out this section to learn about how to make eating a more mindful and enjoyable experience.
MINDFUL EATING & EATING WITH OTHERS
Have you ever thought about why you eat when you eat? Perhaps it’s out of habit, when you have a lunch break at school or work, or because your body tells you it’s hungry. No matter the why, it is important to notice when you feel hungry or full. Focus on being present with your food and the people around you.
One way you can explore your eating habits is by using mindfulness. Mindful eating means you are paying attention to what you’re thinking and feeling while you eat. This helps you notice when you’re feeling hungry or full, eat when you are hungry and check in with yourself when you are full. It will also help you enjoy your food more, and the overall experience of eating.
Try out this mindful eating tip:
“When you’re eating, try to minimize distractions such as being on your phone, reading a book or watching TV. Notice the colours, shapes and textures of your food – notice the smells and how each bite tastes in your mouth. And try listening to the sounds you make as you eat or drink. Not only is this a great way to practice mindfulness, it will also help you enjoy your food even more.”
Noticing When You Feel Hungry or Full
Your body most likely gives you signals to help you know when you feel hungry and when you feel full. Some common hunger signals include stomach growling/rumbling, feeling a bit light-headed and moodiness. Some common signals that you are full include a lack of hunger signals, feeling a fullness in your stomach or less desire to consume food. Listening to these signals can help you better connect with your body and what it needs. Many things can affect whether you feel hungry or full, which can include:
- Noticing your body’s hunger and fullness signals
- The sight, smell and availability of food
- Your emotional state, mood and feelings, such as:
Eating while you do something else like watching television, working or running late can distract you from your body’s hunger and fullness signals. When possible, try to slow down and enjoy your food. Mindful eating will help you notice your body’s signals, which can allow you to better understand how you are feeling and what you need.
Use these ideas to recognize hunger and fullness:
- Ask yourself if you are hungry or if there is another need that is not being met (for example: feeling sad; wanting to be comforted)
- Remember that your emotional state, mood and feelings can affect your food and eating choices
- Pay attention to feelings of fullness to help you know when you have had enough food to eat
- Notice where and when you are eating – remember that you may be eating because food is available, not because you are hungry
Getting into the habit of listening to your body takes time, and its okay if you don’t eat mindfully every meal. For example, people often gather around food and enjoy it with others during holidays and celebrations. During these gatherings, you may eat more than what would feel good, or eat when you’re not hungry.
Over time, you’ll learn more about your own hunger and fullness signals and build eating habits that feel good for you and your body. If you’re having a hard time managing your signals, like often eating past the feeling of fullness, or eating and still feeling hungry, reach out for support to explore what might be going on.
The Benefits of Eating Together
Food is often a main part of celebrations and special events. But, eating with others doesn’t have to be saved for special events. Enjoying food with family, friends, neighbours or co-workers in your day-to-day routine is a great way to connect and add enjoyment to your life.
By eating with others you can:
- Have good times together and make memories
- Share food traditions across generations and cultures
- Explore new foods that you might not normally try
We often get so busy with work, school and home that we push aside plans for meals with others. Here are some ideas to help you get started:
- Have lunch with a co-worker or friend at school
- Look up clubs or events that you can join at lunch time to eat with others
- Plan a breakfast date with friends
- Start a regular community meal with your neighbours
- Plan a weekly dinner with family members, roommates or friends
- Start a dinner party circle with friends where everyone takes a turn hosting
- Make plans to try a new restaurant with a friend or co-worker
When you eat with others, it’s important to remember to take your time – don’t feel the need to rush. Focus on enjoying your food and being together. Try putting away cell phones, electronics, TV and other distractions. Use this time as a chance to connect and share what is going on in everyone’s lives.
Want to explore and learn more? Here are a couple options that will help you.