Between work, chores and the 8 billion other things you have to do today, sitting down to eat a relaxed, 30-minute breakfast probably isn’t high on your priority list. But taking a few minutes to practice mindful eating is one of the biggest gifts you can give your body, says food and wellness guru Cassandra Bodzak, author of the new how-to cookbook Eat with Intention. Here are her five tips for creating a new eating practice that can make you feel happier, calmer and more self-confident than ever before. 

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Turn Off All Distractions
Yep, that means the TV, your phone and even that new copy of The Drifter you’re tearing through. Instead of trying to cram eating in with another activity, take the time to step back and eat with the intention of nourishing your body, instead of getting full as fast as possible.

Don’t Start Eating Until You Find the Gratitude
OK, if you’re used to fitting in a lightning-fast lunch at your desk, this might sound completely crazy. But before you even take a bite, sit quietly for a few minutes. “Ask yourself before each meal whether you’re eating from a place of self-love,” Bodzak suggests. In these moments, set calm, positive intentions for your meal and leave any stress, negative feelings about your body or worries about the day as far away from the table as possible. 

Focus on Chewing Your Food
Once you’ve cultivated a positive environment, it’s time to take the first bite. Chew it twice as long as you usually would, focusing on the act of chewing and enjoying the taste of your meal. It’s a great way to give your mind a much-needed break from the day, but it’s also the most calming, beneficial way for your body to refuel. “Your stomach doesn’t have teeth, so chewing your food well will improve digestion and keep you in the present moment with the delicious meal in front of you,” Bodzak adds.

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Put Down Your Fork Between Bites
We’re gonna be honest: The first few times we tried this exercise, we ended up getting distracted halfway through and gobbling our food anyway. Until mindful eating becomes second nature, here’s a fix: Every time you take a bite, put your fork back down on your plate. When you’ve thoroughly chewed and swallowed that bite, pick up the fork (remember: with intention) and slowly eat another bite. 

Choose Foods from a Place of Love, Not Stress
Before you sit down to your next meal, remember that you’re eating to nourish your body and keep it strong and energized. Choose each meal because it makes you feel positive and nourished. “Sometimes, you will hear your body telling you that it wants the smoothie, other times you will hear that it wants a more substantial breakfast,” Bodzak says. When you’re learning to listen to your body’s needs instead of pushing them aside, you’ll foster a more positive relationship with eating. (And best of all, you can still have pizza sometimes.)

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