A Quick Overview of Mindful Eating
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Let’s Talk About Mindful Eating
This week we are talking about mindful eating; mindful eating is based on the Buddhist concept of “mindfulness.” Mindfulness is a form of meditation that allows a person to bring awareness to their choices, experiences, cravings, and physical cues that occur when eating. Mindful eating helps to reconnect our innate inner astuteness about hunger and satiety to the act of consumption.
The fundamentals of mindful eating include eating slowly without distractions, listening to physical hunger cues and eating only when hungry and stopping when full, acknowledge the difference between hunger and non-hunger triggers, engaging in your senses while eating, eating to maintain overall health and wellness, and appreciating food for what it provides for you.
Why Try Mindful Eating?
Food is an integrated part of our society; we celebrate with dinner, meet friends for happy hour, and celebrate holidays in the kitchen and around the table. We face many food choices every day, ride the roller coasters of trendy diets, and our constantly distracted by our on-demand lifestyles.
Many of us have also lost touch with where our food is sourced from and have created unhealthy relationships (or no relationship) with food as a whole. We rush to eat lunch at our desk in between emails or eat dinner in front of a television most days during the week. We now consume food as a mindless burden which has biological impacts. For example, consuming food quickly can lead to overeating as it takes the brain 20 minutes to recognize you are full. Integrating mindful eating into your daily practices helps to restore eating habits into an intentional act instead of an automatic process.
Mindful eating can also help to promote weight loss by reducing stress, reducing negative eating habits, and changing eating behaviors. A 2014 review conducted by American researchers found that mindful eating was effective in reducing binge-eating disorders (commonly involving emotional eating) when compared to no treatment. Mindful eating results in better awareness, positive emotions, and improved self-control.
Ten Tips for Practicing Mindful Eating
- Start with one meal – mindful eating is supposed to reduce stress, not add stress. Instead of trying to incorporate mindful eating into all meals all at once try fitting it into one meal a few times a week and increase as you become better at the practice.
- Sit, relax, and be present – begin your meal by taking a few deep breaths, sit down, relax into the meal, and be present for what is in front of you.
- Eat slowly – by doing something slowly we are able to focus on the act more. Take a few extra seconds in between bites to allow your mind and body to stay in sync and to increase opportunity for additional mindfulness.
- Chew thirty times – by being mindful of how many times each bite is chewed, chewing becomes the focal point of the meditation.Further, by chewing more you provide some benefits to your digestive system!
- Turn off and tune out – turn off anything that can provide a distraction (televisions, cell phones, computers, etc.) to allow your attention to be undivided.
- Check in with yourself – stop before eating and ask yourself about how you are feeling emotionally and check in with how your body is cuing you in to the fact that you are hungry.
- Put down your utensils in between bites – by putting your utensils down, you will avoid multitasking in preparing that next bite while chewing. Mindfulness eliminates multitasking and by putting down your utensil each time, you can focus on one bite at a time.
- Be a food critic and concentrate on your senses – concentrate on the taste, texture, and your interpretation of the food.Critique how the food makes you feel and pay attention to the sensations of every individual bite to stay present.
- Consume food that takes work – whether the work is deseeding grapes or peeling an orange, or a meal you cooked from scratch, by putting in the extra work will make you more mindful of the process and will keep you naturally attentive.
- Appreciate the farm to table aspect of food sourcing – think about the journey that the food took from where and how it grew to how is was prepared; be grateful for those who worked to provide the food to you.
Do you practice mindful eating? Share your tips and tricks with our community!
Chat with you next week!