In an age where everything is defined by speed, the last thing you would want to do is slow down and be in the present. But that’s exactly what our topic is about today, ‘To be in the present’.. To be mindful!
Today, we will be discussing mindful eating and its role in a healthy lifestyle.
When we talk about mindful eating, we mean slowing the eating process and relishing every bite of what we are eating. Contrary to this practice, we juggle between eating, doing household chores and giving our attention to electronic gadgets in our day-to-day lives.
University of Texas expert dietician says, if we pay attention to what we eat, it tastes better and is more satisfying than if we eat by remote control.
But experts believe that there is much more to mindful eating than simply enjoyment.
Defining Mindful Eating
Mindful Eating comes from the ancient Buddhist practice of mindful meditation, which requires a person to be fully present in a moment and dwell in his environment, physical sensations feelings and thoughts without judging them.
Similarly, mindful eating is a practice which makes you fully aware of your eating experience and your thoughts and feelings associated with food.
“Think about what you’d like to eat. Think about how hungry you are and prepare a plate that reflects that amount of hunger. Then sit down and pay attention to the food – how it smells, how it feels in your mouth, how it tastes and whether you’re enjoying it,” says Meadows, mindful eating expert.
“Try to pay attention to how full you feel. If you decide you’re full, just stop eating, even if there’s food on your plate,” he adds.
Mindful eating has many psychological and physical health advantages to offer.
Below is a list of mindful eating health benefits:
- Eating only when hunger arrives
- Overcoming food cravings
- Ending a meal only after feeling full
- Avoiding binge eating
- Avoiding hedonic eating
- Supporting weight loss
- Promoting a healthy heart
- Controlling diabetes
- Promoting healthier responses to stress
- Increasing the variety of food
- Spending less time thinking about food
On a broader scale, mindful eating can help to serve four major health areas.
A Good Understanding of Hunger
Mindful eating helps you differentiate between the body’s actual hunger and cravings. Most people don’t understand the difference as they eat throughout a given day and don’t feel hunger pangs. And in some other cases, confuse sleep and thirst with hunger.
“Maybe you’re not hungry. Maybe you’re sleepy or thirsty or anxious. Maybe you need to have a drink of water or go for a walk,” Meadows explains.
Mindful eating helps people understand the difference earlier and keeps them from eating unnecessarily.
“Mindful eating also helps cut down on food cravings. You can learn to become curious about the bodily sensations and urges that make up the experience of cravings, and as you do so, cravings may become less intense and you may have greater choice in how to respond to them, including letting them pass,” says Jennifer Daubenmie, Psychologist at San Francisco State University.
When you eat, mindful eating will tell you that you have eaten enough and this is not because you are paying attention to what you’re eating. Rather, you’re relishing every flavor and that’s when you’re taste buds will tell you that you have had enough of that flavor.
Correcting Eating Behaviors
As per experts, you can use mindful eating as a regulator for eating behaviors. This leads to another benefit where you are motivated to eating a wider variety of food.
“That doesn’t mean we’re saying eat as much as you want of whatever you see. It means we’re not restricting the diet. That helps remove the fear of food for people who have long lists of foods they won’t allow themselves. So you can have a brownie or part of a brownie and it won’t blow up your life,” says Meadows.
Additionally, you won’t have to waste all your time thinking, calculating and planning what food to eat, which comes with the task of maintaining a diet of select food to remain fit.
Shedding Extra Weight
Weight loss is another benefit to watch out for when it comes to mindful eating. Experts say that when you are eating mindfully you start tapping on your hunger cues, you tend to regulate what you eat, how much you eat and how satisfied you are, leading to a satisfactory feeling.
By doing this you then begin to cut down on binge, emotional and hedonic eating.
Happy Heart Health
According to Daubenmier’s research published in October 2012, mindful eating can aid overall health. The study shows that it lowers the ratio of triglycerides to HDL cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease. It further helps to control blood sugar because of the decreased intake of sugar-rich foods.
Word of Advice
You can try mindful eating one step at a time. But it is good to remind yourself that everything takes practice and so it is with mindfulness. Start small, maybe with a fruit. Eat slow, enjoy what you eat and let all the flavors sink in.
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