How to practice mindful eating at work

Susanna Kahr

We’re all looking for ways to take better care of ourselves and practice mindfulness in our daily lives. One great way to bring mindfulness into the workplace is by using your lunch break to replenish your body and mind with mindful eating. Here we tell you everything you need to know.

What is mindful eating?

You might have heard that mindful eating is all about eating or chewing your food really slowly and really savoring every little bit, but actually it’s about much more than that. 

Firstly, mindful eating is not a diet. Mindful eating is all about using mindfulness – a form of meditation – to help you to acknowledge and manage your emotions and physical sensations. The main goal is to help you reach a state of full awareness of your experiences, cravings, and physical cues whilst eating. This means that it can be used to treat a number of different conditions, including eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and other food-related problems. 

Fundamentally, mindful eating is about learning to appreciate your food by eating it slowly and without distractions. There are a number of benefits of mindful eating: you can get to know when your body needs food and when you don’t need it, you can learn to engage all of your senses whilst eating, you can learn to cope with guilt and anxiety in relation to food and you can start to notice the effects that food has on your feelings, your body and your energy levels. 

“Currently, because of the not-very-safe location in Oakland, your only options are to eat in the lunch room indoors, in the walled-off, very small outdoor patio, hang out at the dog park (which doesn’t work if you don’t have a dog), or walk in circles around the parking lot.” – anonymous employer review at Pet Food Express

Why you should try mindful eating

Most of us live our lives at full speed today. If we’re not sitting at our desks trying to get assignments done as fast as possible, we’re running to catch the train or running out of the door to our next meeting or night out with friends. Rushing is really a symptom of the fast-paced world we live in and it’s the same with eating. When’s the last time you sat down and actually appreciated your food during your lunch break? Most likely you just grabbed something on your way to work, or when you ran out of the office for 15 minutes, and you probably ate it just as quickly. Do you even remember what it was you ate? 

Of course, it can be difficult to sit down and take your time to eat when you have a thousand deadlines to meet, but practicing mindful eating is a great place to start. Did you know that it takes 20 minutes for your brain to realize that you’re full? Also, if you eat too quickly, your brain might not get the message until you’ve eaten too much. What’s more, when we’re stressed we tend to eat more. 

By practicing mindful eating you’ll start to pick up on cues from your body/stomach about when you need to eat and when you don’t. So, learning to eat mindfully, can also help you to lose weight. And, once you know your triggers, you can take some time to respond to them which means that you can take breaks when you need them and choose the food that you actually need and enjoy. Sounds good, right? 

“I think extending the employees lunch time would be greatly appreciated by all. Considering we barely have time to catch our breath between calls, a little extra down time would be nice to recharge in the middle of our day.” – anonymous employer review at QVC

How can I practice mindful eating at work?

To get started, why not try these things during your lunch break:

When you go out to buy/choose something for your lunch take some time to work out what you want and try to enjoy the process by engaging your senses when choosing your meal.

Get away from your computer, phone and other distractions whilst you eat – if you can, take your food outside and sit somewhere peaceful and quiet or find a quiet meeting room.

If you want to eat with colleagues in the company canteen then encourage them to practice mindful eating with you.

Eat slowly and try not to rush. 

While you eat, think of all of the positive things that come out of being able to choose how to nourish yourself.

Think about how grateful you are that you have access to/know how to prepare delicious and nourishing food.

Engage all of your senses whilst you eat. Appreciate the colors, listen to the crunch, enjoy the smell and savor the taste. 

Respect that you have certain responses to foods, you can like, dislike or feel neutral about food without judgment.

Get to know when you feel hungry and use this to guide you in when and how much to eat. 

At first, we recommend choosing one meal a day to practice these things. So whether it’s your breakfast, lunch or dinner, take the time out of your busy schedule to practice eating mindfully, your body and mind will thank you for it. Why? That’s something we will explain to you in our article about the science of food and work productivity

 

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What are lunch breaks like at your company? Are you able to take a break when you choose to, or are you rushed off your feet and lucky to take 5 minutes out? All of these things will impact whether you’re able to practice mindful eating or not, of course, but will also tell us a lot about your employer and your work/life balance. Tell us all about it in a review on our site and help others find their perfect employer. 

 

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