Benefits to Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is a concept that helps you to manage and maintain your eating habits. It is a dietary technique, but it is not a diet. It is a learned and applied lifestyle form of eating, mindful eating it is not a fad. Our daily lives are filled with mindless eating habits that can sabotage our healthy intentions. Too often we’re in a hurry, we don’t take the time to make healthy food choices, and the food we choose, we’ll end up eating too fast. Food is often thought of as a distraction from whatever activity has our attention and not as a pleasure as mindful eating teaches us.
We also eat when we’re bored, when we’re stressed, when we’re watching television or reading a book, even if we’re not hungry. These mindless eating habits often end up as extra pounds, and that leaves us feeling guilty and depressed. Learning and applying mindful eating practices can help you reverse those negative habits. To help you get started, here are ways to understand the principles, benefits, and manageable steps of mindful eating.
WHAT IS MINDFUL EATING?
Mindful eating is just what the words imply, it is a way to approach eating in a manner that zones in on how you eat rather than what you eat. There are no recipes, no food restrictions, nor any precise menus to follow because every meal, every snack, and every beverage is a conscious dining experience. Mindful eating balances eating nutritional foods when you are hungry with indulging in occasional social eating.
Mindful eating helps us to understand those emotional and physical triggers, called cues, that tell us to eat, even if we are not hungry, and how to reduce those urges. An emotional cue is a boredom, sadness, and even extreme happiness. A physical cue is a sight or the aroma of a favorite food. With the techniques of mindful eating, you will recognize and dismiss unhealthy cues. And the best part of mindful eating is that you, and only you, will have control over what you eat when you eat, and how much you eat. You regain the joy of eating without the need to count calories or give up any of your favorite foods because you will eat the right proportions for your individual health and wellness.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF MINDFUL EATING?
Here are 5 immediate health benefits you’ll notice once you start mindful eating.
1. Reduces overeating, snacking, and binge eating: Knowing the difference between distraction eating and eating because your internal cues signal real hunger is one big benefit. With mindful eating, you can take the time to analyze what is driving your desire for food. If you are hungry, you then take the time to decide what to eat to satisfy your hunger. If you aren’t hungry and you’re just looking for something to eat out of habit, you have the knowledge mindful eating to reduce or avoid those empty calories.2. Controls blood sugar levels: Mindful eating helps you recognize the right amount of food that your body requires to stay healthy. When you are eating sufficient amounts of good cholesterol, fiber, protein, and carbohydrates, you can maintain healthy blood sugar levels. This is a health benefit for diabetics or anyone at risk for becoming a diabetic.
3. Supports weight management: Whether you are overweight or underweight, mindful eating helps us replace old eating habits by re-training our brains so that we eat slower, one bite at a time, and to enjoy the taste, aroma, color, sound, and feel of the food. This eating method lets you focus on the healthy nutrients you are putting in your body. If you are overweight, mindful eating helps you reduce the amount of fat you were eating, and that helps you lose weight. If you are underweight, mindful eating helps you increase the amount of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and other nutrients your body needs to increase muscle mass and gain needed weight.
4. Reduces stress, depression, and anxiety: Mindful eating teaches you how to tune in to your emotions and how to control your feelings without turning to comfort foods. By concentration on maintaining a healthy eating routine of slow, thoughtful dining, you can reduce or avoid emotional distractions.
5. Promotes mental awareness: Learning to listen to your internal cues and to distinguish between physical hunger and emotional hunger brings mindfulness into action. You are more aware of your body signals and you know how to take the time to analyze what those signals mean. Mindful eating lets you avoid mindless eating.
STEPS TO PRACTICE FOR MINDFUL EATING
The practice of mindful eating means being fully engaged in the actions of eating with no distractions. This means giving all of your attention to the reason for, the selection of, the preparation of, and the amount of the healthy foods you are eating.
You don’t have to absorb all 6 of these steps at once, but you can start with a few steps and then add more as you advance in mindful eating.
1. Pause before you eat: Instead of eating the most convenient food available, take the time to decide what it is you will eat, where you will eat it, and how much you will eat.
2. Sit down when you eat: It’s hard to appreciate the smell, feel, and taste of food if you are just munching and swallowing while doing other tasks. First, you can’t appreciate your food, and second, it’s too easy to overeat if you are not fully engaged in your meal. Its recommended to use a fork and knife to eat your meals and should take approximately 15 to 20 min to consume your meal. This helps with digestion and helps you feel full and not overeat.
3. Eliminate distractions: To gain the most benefits from mindful eating, you need to pay attention to all the foods and liquids you are putting into your body. To really enjoy your food and to know when you are satisfied, you need to eliminate all visual distractions. This means to turn off any television, radio, DVD, computer, laptop, tablet, and cell phone, and not talk on the telephone while you are eating. Overeating is too easy if your attention is not on your plate.
4. Place food portions on smaller plates: The use of smaller plates helps with portion control. The less you see, the less you’ll want to eat. Only eat foods that are on your plate. Don’t eat straight from bags or boxes because it’s hard to determine how much you’ve eaten and it’s too easy to overeat when you can’t see inside the packages. When you are dining out and the portions are larger then you would eat at home, ask for a takeaway box at the start of your meal and pack half away for a second meal.
5. Eat slowly: Enjoy each bite of food by eating more slowly and by thoroughly chewing your food before swallowing it. You can extend the pleasure of mindful eating by putting down your fork and knife between bites of food. This practice lets you enjoy the food that is in your mouth and it gives your brain time to let you know when your body is satisfied with the amount of food you have eaten.
6. Okay to leave food on the plate: Mindful eating is the practice of only eating what your body needs to remain healthy and to stop eating when your body signals that it’s satisfied. If there is enough food left on your plate, you can wrap it up for another meal later in the day or tomorrow. If only a few bites are remaining, don’t overstuff yourself, because it’s okay to put the remains in the trash. It’s not wasting food, because it’s more about good mindful eating.
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