Nov 27, 2023
What Is Mindful Eating?
In the busy lifestyle, for many of us, mealtimes become rushed affairs. Several practitioners and health experts are attempting to utilize ‘mindful eating’ interventions to train the mind for better eating behaviour.
Mindful eating, a concept that started with Buddhism centuries ago, has come into the mainstream culture with a more specific perspective to enable health and well-being.
We meditate to train the mind to make better choices in the interests of our life, likewise, mindful eating is a form of meditation that creates a healthier relationship with food.
Before we head to learn; more about mindful eating, here’s a short description of mindless eating that is in practice.
Mindless eating is eating without your mind focused absolutely on eating. Most of us have trained ourselves to mindless eating, which; is also referred to as; distracted eating. Eating; while driving, having food while viewing television, or phone, eating while reading a magazine, eating at the desk in front of the computer screen, or eating while parked on the couch watching TV or Netflix. In all these scenarios, you are not fully focusing on and enjoying the meal experience. Instead, you’re allowing your brain to multitask and divide your focus between different tasks. If you don’t focus entirely on eating, you’ll shovel food down; regardless of whether you’re hungry or not, and most of the time to satisfy your emotional needs (to relieve stress, sadness, anxiety, loneliness, and boredom). Mindless eating propels you to eat what you need rather than what you want.
WHAT IS MINDFUL EATING?
The opposite of unhealthy mindless eating is what is termed ‘mindful eating’. Mindful eating is a way of self-regulating an individual’s physical and emotional sensations to the experience of the food. Let’s split the word to understand the term better, ‘mindful’ means conscious or to be an observer of yourself. So, ‘mindful eating’ means conscious eating (focusing your mind entirely on eating).
IS MINDFUL EATING A KIND OF DIETING?
No. Mindful eating, unlike typical dieting, does not establish strict rules for what to eat, how much to eat, and what not to eat. Mindful eating is non-judgmental awareness of physical and emotional sensations associated with eating, using all your sense in choosing and experiencing food.
- Mindful eating focuses more on how to eat rather; than on what to eat, mindful eating is more about being than doing.
- Mindful eating is not outcome-driven (like weight loss or weight gain) instead it is; behaviour-driven. It is more of appreciating rather than restricting.
HOW TO PRACTICE MINDFUL EATING?
- First and foremost, start the process of eating by setting aside your experience of the food.
- Eat without distractions like TV, a screen of any kind, no book to read, no list to write, and don’t eat while working on a desktop.
- Sit down while you eat, relax your mind, eat slowly and with full awareness. Eating slowly encourages you to express gratitude for food. Take small bites, and slow down (you are more likely to recognize when you are feeling; satisfied).
- Chew each bite of food well before swallowing.
- Before reaching out; for something to eat, stop and take a moment to notice if you are really starving and what you might want to fill you up.
- Serve the correct portions – before going for a second serving, consider if you have had enough, if you need more, or if you are full.
- Check your mood while eating (are you eating because of stress, boredom, depression, or are you; actually physically hungry).
- Listen to the body cues that tell you when you’re hungry and full. Stop eating when you feel full, no matter even if food is left.
- Sometimes, the sight, and smell of food can make us think we are hungrier than we are and when we are presented with large portion sizes, we end up eating more than we need to.
- Open your mind before you open your mouth, and listen to your stomach, not your plate.
- For example: Instead of your usual method of eating raisins (which is simply gulping down a handful of raisins, your approach could be like this: take a look at raisins, feel it, smell it, chew it, let your experience of eating unfold rather than racing through it.
DOES MINDFUL EATING CONTRIBUTE TO WEIGHT LOSS?
Mindful eating may not be effective as a weight loss strategy; on its own but rather as a complement to a weight loss program. Mindful eating embraces making food choices that promote well-being and increases the enjoyment of the eating experience. It may aid in better digestion of food, reduces stress eating, may help in the reduction of food cravings, increase awareness of how food affects you, which may contribute to reduction in BMI and healthy weight maintenance. Mindful eating helps lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol which contributes to obesity.
BENEFITS OF MINDFUL EATING
- Mindful eating distinguishes between emotional and physical hunger and helps you select foods with desirable health benefits. (associated with higher diet quality, such as choosing fruits instead of sweets as a snack or opting for smaller serving sizes or calorie-dense foods).
- Mindful eating helps you control your urges to overeat, impulsive eating, binge eating, hedonic eating (for the purpose of pleasure), and eating for emotional reasons like anxiety, boredom, or stress.
- Mindful eating encourages one to gain awareness of eating experiences, reduces caloric consumption, helps you make healthier snack choices, has a preference for nutritious foods, and improves the overall eating experience.
- Mindful eating considers the wide; spectrum of the meal; where the food came from, and the preparation process.
- Mindful eating can make you aware that you’ve had enough to eat, not just because you’re paying attention to feelings of fullness, but also because you’re focusing on a food’s flavour.