Mindful eating is the key to bringing self-care to the food we eat. Author of The Midlife Method: How to lose weight and feel great after 40, Sam Rice gives us some tips.

When it comes to self-care, there is surely nothing more important than what you put into your body.

I believe that mindful eating is the foundation of a positive relationship with food and the key to successful weight management.

Eat well and with awareness

In practice, mindful eating simply means eating with awareness – giving yourself permission to eat well, to take the time needed to make conscious food choices, and to enjoy the act of eating.

Your sense of wellbeing is enhanced when you eat tasty food that is providing your body with what it needs to thrive. So how can you practice eating with awareness in your everyday life? Here are some simple techniques for more mindful mealtimes:

  • Allow more time for meals and eat slowly.
  • Chew thoroughly and notice the flavours and textures of the food as you eat it.
  • Eliminate distractions by putting all screens away and eating at the table.
  • Stop eating when you start to feel full.

At first, eating with awareness will require conscious effort; effectively you are training your mind to be more in tune with your stomach, but after a while it will become second nature.

Eventually, you will instinctively know when and how much to eat and enjoy your meals so much more as a result.

Enjoy a bit of what you fancy

But eating with awareness isn’t only a great way to make better food choices, it can also help you lose any guilt you may feel around eating certain foods. I’m sure you have things you love to eat that aren’t strictly speaking “good for you”, but there’s no need to cut these types of food out of your diet altogether.

Give yourself permission from time to time to eat something purely because you enjoy it. In the context of a diet that is healthy and balanced overall, it’s fine to have a bit of what you fancy, which to me is the best kind of self-care.

Mindful eating – three steps you can take

VOLUME CONTROL: Some days you’ll be ravenous, on others you’ll hardly think about food at all. Tune in to your body’s natural appetite and eat accordingly. We often overeat by sheer force of habit.

PLAN YOUR MEALS: It’s virtually impossible to eat well if you don’t take the time to plan your meals. Dig out those cookbooks on a Sunday and make your weekly meal plan. You’ll be far less likely to reach for convenience foods if you have all the ingredients to hand for a delicious, healthy meal.

FOCUS ON PLANT-BASED WHOLEFOODS: Choose foods that are high in nutritional value, minimally processed, and have no artificial colours, flavours, preservatives, or unrecognisable ingredients. These types of food include brightly coloured fruit and veg, nuts, seeds, eggs, and wholegrains.

The Midlife Method: How to lose weight and feel great after 40, by Sam Rice (£14.99, Headline Home) is available now.

Follow Sam on Instagram @midlifekitchen.

Why not try Sam’s tips on eating seasonally? It’s easier than you might think.