Nowadays, we all are very conscious of our health, diet, surroundings, etc. Our wellness and health entirely depend on the food that we eat on an everyday basis. But we can stick to or choose such a diet that is highly beneficial for our overall health. For this, we can follow the mindful eating plan.
Firstly we would learn what is mindful eating? And how is it very effective to maintain good health?
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is a way of gaining control over one’s eating habits.
It has been proven to aid weight loss, binge eating, and general well-being. Mindful eating is focused on the Buddhist concept of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a form of meditation that teaches you to be aware of emotions and bodily sensations. It is used to treat a wide range of problems, including eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and a variety of food-related behaviors. Mindful eating is the practice of applying mindfulness to pay full attention to your eating experiences, appetites, and physical cues.
Mindful eating encourages you to just acknowledge and accept your feelings, thoughts, and body sensations rather than judging them. It can include the purchasing, cooking, and serving of food, as well as the consumption of it.
Mealtimes are typically rushed occurrences for many of us due to our hectic daily lives. We eat while driving to work, sitting at a desk in front of a computer screen, or sitting on the couch watching TV. We eat mindlessly, cramming food down regardless of whether or not we’re hungry. In truth, we frequently eat for reasons other than hunger, such as to satisfy emotional needs, reduce stress, or cope with unpleasant emotions like melancholy, worry, loneliness, or boredom.
This technique isn’t about being superb, constantly eating the correct stuff, or never eating on the go again. And it’s not about imposing severe limits on how many calories you can consume or which items you must include or exclude from your diet. Rather, it is about focusing all of your senses and being present while shopping for, cooking, serving, and eating your meal.
While mindfulness isn’t for everyone, many individuals find that eating this way, even for a few meals a week can help them become more in tune with their bodies. This can assist you in preventing overeating, making it easier to modify your dietary habits for the better, and reaping the benefits of a healthier diet.
What involves in Mindful Eating?
In its most basic form, mindful eating includes:
- Eating slowly and without any interruption.
- Sticking to your body’s hunger signals and only eating till you’re satisfied.
- Recognizing the difference between actual hunger and non-hunger eating factors.
- Start engaging by paying attention to the colors, smells, noises, textures, and flavors.
- Trying to cope with food-related guilt and anxiety.
- Eating to keep one’s overall health and happiness.
- Observe how food impacts your emotion and appearance.
- Acknowledging what you eat.
These items enable you to change automatic thoughts and reactions with more deliberate, health-promoting responses.
Benefits of Mindful Eating
You may learn to relish both your food and the experience of eating by paying close attention to how you feel. In contrast, you eat—the texture and flavors of each mouthful, your body’s appetite and fullness indications, and how different foods affect your mood and energy. Being conscious of what you eat can help you digest better, feel fuller with less food, and make better eating choices in the future. It can also assist you in breaking free from unhealthy diet and eating habits.
Following are the various benefits that you can reap from mindful eating habits-
- Slow down and pause from the busyness of your day, which will help to reduce anxiety.
- Examine and alter your connection with food, for example, by assisting you in recognizing when you turn to food for reasons other than hunger.
- Increase your enjoyment of eating by learning to slow down and completely appreciate your meals and snacks.
- Make healthier food choices by focusing on how each type of food makes you feel after you eat it.
- Lowering your food will help your digestion.
- Feel fuller faster and consume less food.
- Make a stronger connection between where your food comes from, how it is produced, and the path it takes to reach your plate.
- Eat more healthful foods in a more balanced manner.
How to Adopt a Mindful Eating Habit?
To develop mindfulness, you must engage in various activities with complete awareness. In the context of mindful eating, it is critical to eat with your whole concentration rather than on “automatic pilot” or while reading, looking at your phone, watching TV, daydreaming, or planning what you will do later. When your focus wanders, gently return it to your meal and the experience of making, serving, and eating.
Many people find it beneficial to attend a mindfulness or mindful eating conference, online course, or workshop. Begin by practicing mindful eating for five-minute increments and progressively increase from there. Remember, you may start mindful eating when making your grocery list or scanning the menu at a restaurant. Make sure you carefully examine each item you add to your list or choose from the menu.
However, there are numerous easy ways to begin started, some of which can provide significant benefits on their own:
- Use all of your senses when buying, cooking, serving, and consuming food. How do certain foods appear, smell, and feel when you cut them? What do they sound like when they cook? What do they taste like when you eat them?
- Begin by taking a few deep breaths and considering the nutritional value of each single food item. While nutrition experts continue to debate which foods are “healthy” and which are not, the greatest rule of thumb is to eat food that is as similar to the way nature created it as possible.
- Be attentive and make observations about yourself and the food you’re about to eat. Take note of how you’re sitting; maintain good posture while being calm. Recognize your surroundings, but also learn to tune them out. Focusing on what’s going on around you can divert your attention away from the eating process and detract from the mindfulness experience.
- Pay attention to your appetite. How hungry do you feel? You want to come to the table when you’re hungry, not when you’ve skipped meals. Understand why you’re eating this particular food. Is it because you’re hungry, or because you’re bored, need a distraction, or believe it’s what you should be doing?
- Observe how it feels in your mouth after taking a bite. Now, how would you describe the texture? Try to identify all of the ingredients and flavors. Chew thoroughly, paying attention to how you chew and how it feels.
- Pay attention to how your experience changes from one minute to the next. Have you ever felt as if you would burst? Are you completely satisfied? Take your time, be present, and don’t rush through the experience.
- Express gratitude and consider where this food comes from, the plants or animals involved, and all the people engaged in transporting the food and bringing it to your plate. Being more aware of the origins of our food can help us all make better informed and sustainable decisions.
- Continue to eat carefully while conversing with your dining friends, paying great attention to your body’s fullness cues. When dining alone, strive to stay present in the experience of eating.
- Turn off the TV and put down your phone to reduce distractions.
Apply Mindful Eating into Your Routine Life
It’s absurd to expect most of us to be conscious of every bite or even every meal we eat. Work and family pressures often force you to eat on the move or have only a limited window to eat anything or risk going hungry for the rest of the day. Even if you are unable to maintain a rigid mindful eating practice, you can avoid eating mindlessly and ignoring your body’s cues.
Perhaps you can take a few deep breaths before eating a meal or snack to think about what you’re about to put into your body. Are you eating because you’re hungry or because you’re sentimental? Perhaps you’re frustrated, anxious, or lonely.
Consider mindful eating to be similar to exercise: every little bit matters. The more you can slow down, concentrate entirely on the process of eating, and listen to your body, the more satisfied you will be with your meal and the more control you will have over your food and nutrition habits.
Using Mindfulness Techniques to Understand Your Relationship with Food
Food has a significant impact on your health, whether you are conscious of it or not. It can have an impact on how you feel physically, how you react emotionally, and how you manage psychologically. It can either improve your energy and attitude or deplete your resources and leave you feeling lethargic, grumpy, and depressed.
We are all aware that we should consume less sugar and processed foods and consume more fruits and vegetables. However, if simply knowing the “rules” of healthy eating was sufficient, none of us would be overweight or addicted to junk food.
However, when you eat consciously and become more in tune with your body, you can begin to notice how different meals influence you physically, intellectually, and emotionally. And this can make the transition to healthier eating habits much easier. For example, if you recognize that the sweet food you need when you’re tired or depressed makes you feel worse, it’s simpler to resist such cravings and instead select a healthier snack that enhances your energy and mood.
Most of us here only pay close attention to how food makes us feel when we are physically ill. It is not appropriate to ask, “Does my meal make me sick?” but rather, “How great does it make me feel?” To put it another way, how much better do you feel after eating? After a meal or snack, how much more energy and enthusiasm do you have?
The Bottom Line
Mindful eating is an effective method for regaining control over your food. If traditional diets haven’t worked for you, this method is worth looking into. If you wish to practice mindful eating, there are many wonderful books on the subject available in stores and online.