Nowadays there is a lot of talking about mindfulness and mindful eating, let’s see in details what they are, why they are important and how to put them in practice
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is being conscious of the present moment without judgment, accepting feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations as they come without reacting automatically.
What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating is an approach to food that focuses on being fully present while you are eating (for example, not eating while you are doing something else like driving, watching tv, working, reading, etc) It also increases awareness of your thoughts, senses, and feelings during and after you eat. It means:
· Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation, by respecting your inner wisdom
· Using all your senses to choose to eat food that is satisfying to you and nourishing your body at the same time
· Acknowledging responses to food without judgment (likes, dislikes, neutral)
· Becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety indicators to guide your decisions to begin and end eating
Why is so important to be mindful when eating?
Being mindful when eating is important because improves the connection with the food by opening up to appreciate it more, meaning a healthier relationship with food.
It may also help in regulating the appetite, aid digestion, and make eating an enjoyable and pleasurable experience. It’s about enjoying and appreciate food.
How can I eat more mindful?
Here are some tips:
· Slow down when eating. Chew your food well and take time to pause while you’re eating by putting your cutlery down between each mouthful. This can allow your body to recognize when it is full. When your stomach has taken enough food, a hormone called leptin is released from fat tissues and sends signals to the brain of fullness, but this process takes 20 minutes to occur so the slower you eat the earlier you feel full.
· Avoid distractions - Try not to eat while you're doing something else like using your laptop, phone, reading, or watching TV so that you can relax and enjoy your food at the moment.
· Listen to your body - Practice recognizing when you feel hungry by thinking about what it feels like in your body to feel hungry. When you eat, start with the amount of food you expect to make you feel comfortably full. Try to avoid excesses like periods of extreme hunger or extreme fullness. Remember you can always eat more if you still feel hungry.
· Reflect on your thoughts and feelings - Recognize when you are eating for reasons other than physical hunger. Sometimes emotions can trigger hunger, therefore, it is important to identify what drives your eating.
How can you distinguish between emotional hunger and physical hunger?
· Emotional hunger is likely to come on suddenly whereas physical hunger will build over time.
· Emotional hunger will usually create a craving for a particular food whilst physical hunger is more likely to be satiated by any food.
· Recognize without judgment that it is entirely normal to eat in response to thoughts and feelings from time to time. Acknowledge this and satisfy your emotions by enjoying the food slowly with all four senses. This can support you with emotional eating behaviors.
· Plan ahead and stick to regular meal times - Make a plan of your meals and snacks for the week. Also, consider eating at regular times throughout the day. This helps to regulate your levels of hunger which could impact positively your eating behaviors and food choices.
· Enjoy each mouthful - Take time to recognize the aroma, flavor, taste, and texture of your meals. This will help you enjoy your eating experience.
· Eat food for fuel and nourishment - Choose nutritious foods that are satisfying to you, give you energy, and are nourishing to your body.
In conclusion, eating mindfully is a way to enjoy what you’re eating whilst being attuned with your body and acknowledging your thoughts and feelings. It can help encourage positive eating behaviors and healthy eating choices as you choose foods that are nourishing as well as satisfying to your body.
Please note that this approach may not be suitable for those with an active eating disorder. Mindful eating can lead to justification of undereating and can be harmful to those recovering from eating disorders and disordered eating. Mindful eating is of limited use to people with Anorexia, because of their need for distraction, rather than an increased awareness of eating behaviors. Always check with a professional before starting it if you suspect you have an eating disorder.
That’s all for now.
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