Mindful Eating for Optimal Health
No matter your relationship to food, mindfulness can help you reevaluate and adjust your habits. It also encourages you to pay attention to your body’s hunger cues and reduce emotional eating or binge eating.
Mindful eating has been linked to weight loss, improved moods and digestion, as well as an increase in self-trust around food choices. Furthermore, research suggests it may have beneficial effects on mental health by decreasing anxiety and depression symptoms.
1. Listen to Your Hunger Cues
Mindful eating is about paying attention to your body’s signals of hunger and fullness. Eating in response to external factors other than these signals may lead to overeating and an excessive energy intake.
When you’re hungry, it can often feel like fatigue, increased irritability or a grumbling stomach. On the other hand, when full, there may be some pressure in the area as well as reduced appetite and lack of hunger.
Gaining awareness of your body’s signals of hunger and fullness can be challenging at first, but with practice comes improvement.
2. Eat Slowly
Eating slowly improves digestion, reduces stress and makes you more satisfied with your meals. Furthermore, it may assist in weight loss or maintaining current levels more easily.
A University of Rhode Island study compared people who ate slowly with those who ate quickly, and found that eating slower caused calorie reduction and more weight loss than fast-eating individuals.
Start by chewing each mouthful of food several times before swallowing, giving your brain time to register fullness signals and encouraging you to stop eating before you overindulge. This is an effective way to slow down eating so that you can enjoy food more slowly.
3. Chew Your Food
Chewing is the initial step of digestion, and it’s essential for your body to break down food properly. Unfortunately, many people fail to chew their food thoroughly – potentially placing themselves at risk for serious health complications!
Improper chewing can lead to indigestion, bloating and acidity, so it’s vital that you practice mindful eating and chew your food thoroughly!
Chewing slowly and thoroughly, especially when enjoying a nutritious meal, is one of the best ways to ensure that your body gets all of the necessary nutrients it requires.
Experts suggest taking small bites and chewing your food for at least 30 times before swallowing it. Additionally, it’s wise to put your fork down between bites and eat slowly.
4. Savor Your Food
Savoring your food means paying attention to the texture, aroma, taste, and experience of each bite. This is an integral component of mindful eating which has been linked to lower fasting glucose levels, improved digestion, and signals of satiety (fullness).
As you prepare, cook, and serve your food, pay attention to the colors, textures, and aromas of each ingredient. Furthermore, take note of anything else in your environment as you sit down for a meal.
Take pleasure in small bites and chew your food slowly and intentionally to fully appreciate each mouthful. Additionally, set your utensils down between each bite so that you can focus on savoring every sensation as you chew.
5. Avoid Distractions
Mindful eating can be an invaluable tool to improve your relationship with food and reduce stress. It teaches you to eat less, savor food more, and create healthier eating habits that will last a lifetime.
Mindful eating can be challenging, and it may take some time to form new habits that will last throughout your daily life. But you can start practicing mindfulness at mealtimes by minimizing distractions and making an intentional effort to focus on one thing at a time.
Distracted eating can lead to eating too quickly and missing out on flavorful food. Furthermore, you may eat past your fullness cues without realizing you’re feeling uncomfortable until later in the day.