Why Mindful Eating Can Help You Feel Better

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Why Mindful Eating Can Help You Feel Better

Wellness Challenge Week 43: Eat mindfully

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Image Credit: Willemvdk

A couple weeks ago, I decided things were getting a little out of control with my eating habits. It wasn’t about the food, it was about HOW I was choosing to eat it.

Mindful eating is about being super present while you’re eating. I’ll admit, this is a very tough one for me as I’ve developed a habit over the years of constantly occupying my mind with miscellaneous data while I consume food. The data becomes more important and the food becomes secondary.

A typical weekday might involve me waking up and preparing breakfast, then sitting down to my computer to go through email while I eat. At lunch, I’ll throw something together quickly and bring it back to my computer to continue working. At dinner, I’ll spend some time looking at my phone (which really just means I’m on Facebook or email) before setting it aside to have an actual conversation with the human being sitting next to me.

Mind vs. Food

Even before I was obsessed with working on my computer, I would always be looking for something else to do other then eat. When I was in high school, I’d eat my breakfast on the way to school while I was driving. Sit me down without a newspaper or a computer and I would take to reading the text on the back of a cereal box just so that my mind would have something to do. Sounds crazy, but it’s really hard for me to sit down to eat and not do anything but eat!

So I tried it out recently and some interesting results came of it. One, when I wasn’t occupying my mind, I was much more aware of how full I was and I became full much more quickly. When you eat mindlessly, you continue to shovel food in your mouth without paying any attention to your body’s signals to slow down. I also appreciated the taste and texture of the food – it tasted better when I paid attention! It made me enjoy my meal rather than treating it as an obligation.

And finally, for someone who is mindful of eating for fuel rather than just eating to taste or to please my mind, I was able to actually reap the benefits of feeling like I was fueling my body with the healthy energy it needed rather than assuming the food would do its thing and I could just keep on doing my thing – almost like we were friends but not really friends and there was a mutual understanding between the two of us to keep the peace.

Why Mindful Eating is a Good Idea

There is plenty of scientific research going on regarding how mindful eating can help people lose weight and even help cure eating disorders such as binge eating and bulimia. There are others who believe you absorb more nutrients from your food when you’re present. The Institute for the Psychology of Eating trains and educates others on a growing field in medicine known as Mind Body Nutrition, which examines how our thoughts and emotions while we eat affects our metabolism! Beyond the superficial, mindful eating could potentially have much deeper implications.

It’s still a struggle for me to consciously sit down and eat without doing anything else, but like any habit that’s hard to break, it will take a lot of time and compassion to get to a place where I can feel comfortable doing nothing but eat. Food is a vital part of our lives, it just seems we’ve lost the ability to connect with why it actually is so important.

How to Start Eating Mindfully

To start eating mindfully, consider the following:

  • Turn off all electronics and keep them out of arm’s reach.
  • If you’re going to be eating alone, sit next to a window or find a comfortable spot outside so you can be in a relaxing, peaceful place while enjoying your meal.
  • Consider preparing your meals as if you were preparing a dinner for guests. even if it’s just you or just you and your partner, consider how you plate your meals and make it look pretty.
  • Light a candle and set the mood.
  • When you feel the need to occupy your mind with something else, check in with how you’re really feeling. How full are you?
  • Having a conversation with someone else is okay, just be mindful that it’s a lighthearted one. Avoid arguments and heated debates.
  • Smile while you eat.
  • Become really curious about tastes and textures and see if you can discover new ones. Maybe today’s vegetables taste extra good because of a new spice mixture you added or because they’re fresh from the garden.
  • Start noticing what you really love and what doesn’t delight you so much. You might start noticing that chocolate cake really doesn’t taste as good as you thought it did.
  • Slow down and chew your food.
  • Continue to be mindful even after you’re finished eating. How do you feel 3o minutes after your meal? Do you feel nourished or depleted?

 Do you eat mindfully? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below! 

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By | 2017-09-06T16:59:15+00:00 November 11th, 2013|2013 Wellness Challenge, nutrition, wellness|