Mindful eating is about being present in the moment when you are eating a meal and enjoying every mouthful. It’s also about listening to your body's cues in respect to hunger, satiety and taste.
Studies have shown that mindful eating practices can have a dramatic affect on our health and well-being!
Have you ever sat down to eat a meal with your head buried in a phone, a book, computer or TV, and all of a sudden you look down to realise you have completely devoured the entire plate without realising? This is because your mind is focused on the task you were engaged in on the phone, computer or TV and hasn't had time to tell your digestive organs that it's time to eat. So your digestive system hasn't given the cue to your stomach acid, enzymes or hormones to kick into gear in anticipation of digesting your food.
Okay, so that doesn't seem all that bad...does it? Well, it means that you don’t break down your food properly and therefore you don’t absorb all the nutrients in that meal. So all that time spent on shopping for the food, preparing and cooking it all, to not even nourish one single cell just doesn't seem fair! This in itself can have a flow-on effect on all areas of your health. If you're not absorbing nutrients you cannot manufacture neurotransmitters, which are vital for our mental health!
Food is indeed information. The notion that food is just calories for energy or fuel is nonsense, or that it is simply building blocks of micronutrients and macronutrients. Quite the contrary, food is a coevolutionary tool for our epigenetic expression. In other words, food literally talks to your cells!
We cannot feed our good bugs a smorgasbord of nutrients they so desire and deserve to help them help us! And because your body hasn't had time to register you're eating, it also doesn't have time to produce the satiety hormone leptin, so you find yourself still feeling hungry - or worse, hangry! This can be the first domino to go and lead to overeating or snacking throughout the day.
A study conducted by Jordan et al in 2014 exhibited that mindful eating practices were associated with less impulsive eating, reduced calorie consumption and healthier snack choices, therefore encouraging healthier weight and eating habits- sSomething to get excited about! And the best thing is mindful eating is completely FREE!
These simple steps can help you begin practicing mindful eating:
- Sitting when eating a meal. Sit down, relax and enjoy!
- Slowing your pace when eating. Taking smaller bites, chewing for longer and taking breaks between bites. Eating is not a race!
- Eating away from distraction such as television, phones or the computer. Your body deserve your full undivided attention; the rest can wait for now!
- Listening to your body's hunger and signals of fullness; and letting these cues guide your decision making on when to begin and finish eating.
- Choosing foods that are both pleasurable to eat and which nourish your body.
- Eating with all of your senses: taste, smell, touch, sight and feel. Eating should be an experience not a chore!
- Being aware of the effect the food you eat is having on your body. Do you respond well or do you experience burping, bloating, nausea, constipation or diarrhoea?
- Tuning in and being aware of emotional eating patterns.
- Knowing and having respect for where your food comes from. Source ethically and locally wherever possible!
Allow yourself to just 'be' when you sit down to a meal. Put all distractions out of reach and sight and just be present. Take a few deep breaths, give thanks and chew your food slowly and calmly. These few simple things will allow your body to digest and absorb all those beautiful nutrients from your food. Honour yourself at meal times and experience the joy of nourishing your body!
- Brogan K 2016 A Mind of Your Own, Harper Collins, 1 London Bridge St, LONDON
- Jordan C, Wang W, Donatoni L 2014 Mindful Eating : Trait and State Mindfulness Predict Healthier Eating Behaviour, Psychology Faculty Publications, vol.68, pp. 107-111
- Kristeller J, Jordan K 2018 Mindful Eating: Connecting with the wise self, the spiritual self, Frontiers in Psychology