There’s so much focus on food these days. What should you, or shouldn’t you eat? How do you avoid gaining weight or developing serious medical problems, such as heart disease and diabetes? Should you emphasize foods high in protein or fiber? How much sugar, fat and carbs can you safely consume?
Digestive problems, including bloating and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), are an increasing concern.
Have you ever noticed that you’ve just eaten something and can hardly remember what it tasted like? Kind of like eating on autopilot? Our busy and stressful modern-day lifestyles may have to do with this. Our minds are so busy planning our next move that we don’t allow time to savour the food we eat, or allow time for it to digest.
It takes 10 minutes for your brain to detect the body’s signals that you’re feeling full. Eating quickly can mean that you could easily consume way too much food before your body tells you to stop, leaving you feeling uncomfortably full.
I believe that how we eat our food is just as important as the food we eat, and this is where mindful eating comes into play.
Mindful eating is a powerful tool for weight loss, stress reduction, and increasing nutrient absorption. Best of all, it doesn’t cost a thing and requires little interruption of daily life.
Mindful eating helps you to feel more pleasure when eating. By noticing and enjoying the pleasurable tastes and sensations during a meal, you’ll feel more satisfied and therefore less likely to want to eat more.
So How Do You Eat Mindfully?
- Put aside an extra five to ten ninutes for eating and digesting
- Minimize extraneous distractions (turn down or turn off the radio, TV or phone)
- If friends or family ask you what you’re doing, politely say “I’m just noticing/enjoying my food!” Then rejoin the dinner conversation.
- Count the number of times you chew each bite (aim for thirty).
- Enjoy sensations, flavors, sounds, smells, and sights one at a time, as if you’re doing a wine tasting.
- It’s OK if you get distracted and drift off. This is completely normal. If this happens, you haven’t failed. When you realize this has happened, simply acknowledge it and come back to noticing.
- After the meal, sit still without eating for five minutes. Every one or two minutes, pay attention to sensations in your stomach and feelings of fullness. Just see what you notice.
- If you don’t have time in your schedule to eat mindfully for every meal, that’s OK. Perhaps start off with one meal per day or one day per week and notice how it feels. If you like it, then maybe do it a little more, bit by bit.
There’s enough doom and gloom and negativity in the world around us. Eating is one of those simple pleasures that we’ve forgotten about. Eating mindfully is a way to get back in touch with the pleasure of food, and it comes with many benefits to our health and well-being. As the Buddhists say, “it’s not what you eat, but how you eat it.” So why not give it a try?
As often is the case with advice for managing your weight, finding a solution is easy — putting it to practice in your daily life can be much harder! The psychological issues surrounding weight management and healthy relationships with food can be complex. Psychology can help uncover these issues and provide you with a plan for long-term, meaningful change.