The Art of Mindful Eating
- Posted on: Aug 6 2015
There is no right way to eat, but for those of us who have busy lives, taking the time necessary to savor their food is a rare occurrence. Eating plays a vital part in our life, and for those of us who live busy lives, we often eat where we can and when we find the time. This may mean eating breakfast in the car on the way to work, eating while working in front of the computer, eating behind a desk at work, and eating anywhere else that is not at your kitchen table. Even though we need food, eating in this rushed manner does not make the act of eating an enjoyable and fulfilling experience. Rushed eating can also have negative consequences. If an individual is always eating on the go, eating when they are stressed, or is always rushing when eating their food, this opens the door for digestive upset, digestive disorders, and can make one more susceptible to obesity.
If you feel like you’re eating habits fit this description, then mindful eating is the way to enjoy your food again. Slowing down and taking notice of how and what you are eating, brings about an awareness and an appreciation for the food that you are eating. The idea of mindful eating is based on the Buddhist concept of mindfulness, which is when you are fully aware of what is happening around and within you at that very moment in time. For many individuals, it is an excellent way to relieve stress and has helped alleviate chronic gastrointestinal issues, reduce overeating, as well as helped many develop a healthier relationship with food. With mindful eating you begin to give your full attention to the act of drinking and eating, as you pay more attention to the textures, flavors, smells, and colors of the food you eat.
Studies have shown that mindful eating habits might help treat eating disorders and possibly help with obesity. An NIH-funded study of mindful eating techniques for the treatment of binge eating was conducted by psychologist Jean Kristeller at Indiana State University as well as by colleagues at Duke University. This study included 150 binge eaters and it was discovered that mindfulness helped people recognize the difference in their hunger triggers (emotional and physical), and even introduces a “moment of choice” between the urge and eating. As a result, the NIH is funding additional research on mindful eating.
If you would like to improve your digestive health and eating behaviors, check out these mindful eating tips:
Unplug Yourself And Sit Down
Get away from your electronic devices, and eat in a location where you can sit comfortably with no electronic distractions. If it helps, set a timer for 30 minutes and take that time to eat your meal. Give your mind and body a break, and set everything aside in order to enjoy and focus on your meal.
Don’t Eat Fast, Instead Eat Slowly
Take your time when eating, as your brain needs time to register that you’re eating since it takes the brain about 20 minutes to realize that you’ve had enough food. In order to help stop yourself from overeating, set your fork down in between each bite and be sure to finish what’s in your mouth before you take the next bite. Take a pause before each bite.
Take Small Bites and Chew Well
When eating, be sure to take small bites and chew your food well. Devouring food without chewing your food well can trigger symptoms such as gas, bloating and indigestion. Since your saliva is full of enzymes, if your more your food is broken down by exposure to the saliva, the easier it will move through your intestines.
Only Eat When You Are Hungry
Before you open up the refrigerator or cabinet door, ask yourself if you are really hungry. If you aren’t hungry, do something else instead like read a book, meditate, or take a walk. This will help you break the pattern of mindless or emotional eating.
Eat silently and think about what it to produce the food that is on your plate. Take notice of the smell, temperature, color, texture, and taste of the food on your plate in order to be fully present while you are eating. In addition, acknowledge the time and effort it took to put into creating your meal, say a blessing or just be thankful for your good fortune.
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