How many times do you eat something and forget about it altogether? Do you struggle with recalling the sensation of eating?
Mindful eating comes from an ancient practice called ‘mindfulness.’ This method can completely change the way you think and feel about food. What’s better is that it can help you look towards healthy eating and a better lifestyle.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a report in 2011 that revealed how an average American spends 2.5 hours of the day eating but does not really dedicate this time to mindful eating. Mealtime is often a part of multitasking because on most occasions you are busy doing other things like watching TV, reading, driving, using your phone, etc.
Since we are engaged in other tasks, it takes our focus away from what we are eating and how much we are eating. Not being completely aware of what you are consuming is called ‘mindless eating.’ Many experts have blamed this factor as the most significant reason for the national obesity epidemic.
Why Is Mindful Eating Important?
You can gain tons of benefits if you are more conscious about what you are eating. Yes, the various health problems we face today can be minimized if we become more mindful about our food.
First and foremost, mindful eating keeps us from overeating. It helps you monitor the signals of your brain more efficiently. You will know when you don’t feel hungry anymore. Sadly, because we are not paying attention, we continue to eat until someone tells us to stop or the food on our plate disappears.
Other than that, mindless eating is also associated with stress and boredom. We do not eat because we are hungry but because we are sad, bored, or just stressed out. At this time, we usually search for comfort (read: dirty) food that helps us take our mind away from stressful things.
At other times, we just want to eat something because the smell of delicious food triggered us. This is a typical scenario at movie theaters where we buy large glasses of sodas and popcorns because we can’t resist the smell and partly because it’s a tradition. Mindful eating will not only help you prevent obesity but other health problems associated with it. It helps you transform your lifestyle and change your body.
Mindful eating will not only help you prevent obesity but other health problems associated with it. It helps you transform your lifestyle and change your body.
5 Ways to Get Started with Mindful Eating
Here are some fantastic tips to help you get started with this great habit:
- Re-Design Your Shopping List
Now that you are planning to become a conscious eater, it is best if you follow the same approach for your shopping list. Know what you buying and how you will be using it. Pay attention to the health value of every ingredient and item that you purchase for your pantry.
Spend most of the time in the produce section. Pick colorful and nutritionally loaded fruits and vegetables. Avoid visiting the aisles that have processed food on them. Buying the right things now will help you serve the good things on the table later.
Making a list beforehand can help you with this!
- Take Your Time
Thanks to our demanding routines, we don’t even have a chance to eat properly. But to establish the habit of mindful eating, try to eat slowly. Remember, you’re not in a competition and whatever you put on hold for food can wait a few minutes longer.
Enjoy the flavors of your food. Good food is a blessing so make sure you treat it like one. As your tummy starts filling in, you will notice how your chewing will become longer. You will start feeling full, and you will get the signals when you are done.
So take your time, chew your food, enjoy the flavors, and savor it.
- Avoid Distractions
The best idea is to have a separate place where you eat your food – away from the TV and other distractions. Unfortunately, watching television while eating has become a trend. This is a major reason why most of us are mindless eaters. Earlier, dining tables were placed in the kitchen, but now they are usually in the living area with a huge TV screen right in front of it.
Avoid watching TV and even place your phones away. Make mealtime not only about mindful eating and enjoying food but also about some family time. So sit together, eat together, and enjoy half-an-hour of the electronic-free zone.
This does not mean you can never eat in front of a TV or while using your phone. But even if you are planning on something like that, make sure it’s a careful choice and not the norm.
- Wait for the Signal
No more ‘nervous eating’!
When it’s time to eat, watch what you are eating to avoid weight gain and assess if you really need to eat something. Wait for the signal from your brain and respect your satiety. Focus on your body and what it demands from you. With our lifestyle, it is easy to get confused between hunger and anxiety. As a result, we tend to become more mindless eaters.
To get started with mindful eating, it is important to restore your connection with your body. Start communicating and listen to what it is saying. Avoid off-time hunger pangs. Make a routine and stick to it.
Respect the daily mains – including your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and one or two tiny snacks. Don’t take the eating habit to extremes or wait until you are starving. React to your physical hunger as soon as you get the signal but do not confuse it with ‘false hunger alarms.’
- Connect with Your Food
As said earlier, mindfulness is about knowing your food better and rekindling the lost relationship. This will help you gain an appreciation for your food.
Every time you are about to start with your meal, pause and think about everything you (or a loved one) did to bring it to the table. Feel blessed and pay your gratitude to the opportunity of enjoying food and the people you are able to share it with. You will then notice how quickly you can connect with every bite of food.
So while you are practicing mindful eating, think about all the benefits you can gain from it and make it a part of your lifestyle for even bigger gains.