Mindful Eating: What You Need To Know…
With many weight loss diet plans and other diet crazies out there, telling the genuine one from all these can be a little intimidating for many.
It is also worth noting that, many of the weight loss plans out there do not stick to the principles of living healthy and proper weight loss.
Mindful eating, rather than mindless eating, however, plays a huge role in promoting good health.
What is Mindless Eating?
As it turns out, most people still don’t know how to calculate the calorie content of the foods they eat.
Many will continue eating even when they have had their fill. There are several examples in which almost everyone can relate. This includes the times you munched a bucket of popcorn at the movies, and when you find yourself walking to the fridge and eating anything edible inside, just because you cannot find sleep.
Most people will munch on anything even when they aren’t hungry.
This is known as mindless eating.
Another definition of mindless eating is when you eat for comfort, due to a social situation, or distraction. Many people will not realise they were ‘just eating’ until the bowl is empty. In most instances, mindless eating occurs when one’s mind is engaged in something else, say a TV program, talking to someone, or if anxious.
If you work from a desk on a computer, you might find yourself munching through a bag of chips unknowingly. Although your mind may be occupied with the task at hand, your mouth will be focused on the food.
While that might have been the idea all along, mindless eating can cause you to eat more calories than your body needs. The effects of mindless eating aren’t negligible with the results showing several days down.
Creating a habit of munching on something as you work, or when anxious about something isn’t recommended at all. This is because you rarely enjoy the foods you are eating and even makes you forget about foods meant to sustain good health.
What is Mindful Eating?
There is more to mindful eating than merely chewing your food slowly. Mindful eating is all about appreciating, focusing, and tasting every bit of the food you are having. It also involves choosing your diet plan carefully to avoid having too many calories in one sitting and for nourishment.
Of course, chewing slowly is one of the pillars of mindful eating.
The best thing about mindful eating is that you are entirely focused on your food, which means you get to taste everything in it. Experts see it as a form of meditation whereby you concentrate on the food and the food alone.
Another way to define mindful eating is being mentally present when you eat and focusing mainly on the food. Distractions such as texting, TV, or chatting with other people are eliminated while having your meal. For many people, contemplating the origin of the food, how it was prepared, and how nourishing it is, is what makes them mindful eaters.
Mindful eaters get to enjoy every bite of their meal and deal with stress much better when compared to mindless eaters. In addition to this, conscious eaters benefit significantly from the nourishment provided by a meal, are self-aware, and enjoy a healthy life.
What Makes People Eat Mindlessly?
Most people do not notice they are eating mindlessly until it is too late. Many of the factors that cause one to ‘graze’ around food are universal, while some are out of a person’s comfort.
For instance, your surrounding may impact how you eat. Identifying factors that cause you to eat mindlessly is, however, the first step to overcoming the habit.
1. Emotional Distress or Reward
You might have seen it time and again in movies where a heartbroken character will turn to a bucket of ice cream, fries, etc. for comfort. This can happen to anyone. Some people turn to ‘comfort food’ as a form of reward. Emotional stress is one of the leading causes of mindless eating in society today.
How we were brought up might also have something to do with this habit. Most parents use junk foods as a form of reward, a practice many people continue with through their adulthood.
2. Social Influence
Being in the company of other people can cause you to eat more than you need or something you don’t need at all. An excellent example of this is a snack bar offered during a company meeting. Everyone will find himself/herself having one or two even though he/she knows it isn’t necessary.
As long as someone else is munching down the chocolate bar, everyone in the room will want a share of it.
3. Boredom and Distraction
Some of us eat mindlessly out of boredom. Boredom can make you walk to the fridge, dish out the chocolate bars or ice cream and start eating to keep yourself busy.
Finding something to put to your mouth just because you are bored, or need a distraction/distracted is a common habit with many people. Some will even look for a snack as a form of procrastination, or to ‘kill’ time.
Many people are driven by time. You will want to have something to eat only because it is lunchtime. This mindset comes even when you aren’t hungry. Other people will wait until they are ‘past’ hungry to look for something to eat – this mostly happens when someone has trouble eating or was on a tight schedule.
Whatever the case is, many people will turn to the most comfortable and nearest option available. Fried chips, fast foods, and anything the vending machine has to offer tops the list for such people.
How To Overcome These Triggers
Knowing what your triggers are, can help you formulate a battle plan against the same. Some of the best strategies include tweaking the triggers to help you become a mindful eater, as well as learning to cope with them. Here are a few ways you can overcome such triggers.
a. Replace the Big Containers with Smaller Ones
Large food containers and boxes can be deceptive, and especially when having a delicious meal. If you are among the people who have to finish the food on their plate, you might then want to replace the large containers with smaller ones. You only need to look for containers big enough for the recommended potions to get you through the day.
b. Eat Slowly
Eating quickly makes it hard for the stomach to know just when you are full, hence signal the brain in time to avoid overeating. The only solution for this is eating slowly and chewing the food entirely- this allows the stomach enough time to send signals to the brain in time.
You will be surprised how much food you’ve been wasting when you eat slowly. In addition to this, you get to appreciate the food when you eat slowly, and so does it get digested properly.
c. Eat Only When Hungry
Do not let your environment dictate when you have to eat, but rather listen to your body for cues. For instance, you might feel suddenly hungry when you see someone having a hearty meal even after having yours just a few minutes ago.
Letting external factors trigger hunger pangs will only cause you to eat mindlessly. Listen to internal cues to know whether you are just craving or are indeed hungry.
If hungry, order the right meal and not just any fast food you can lay your eyes on. Self-control plays a huge role here.
d. Have Snacks Close by
It’s hard for anyone to go through the day with just a hearty breakfast. There are times when energy levels will drop making you start having cravings for sugary foods. Keeping snacks close by may, however, help refuel hence close the gap between breakfast and lunch.
This doesn’t, however, mean you go for a candy bar or chips for snacks; fruits, yoghurt, and healthy portions of snacks are recommended. You can bring the snacks from home, or buy some from a whole-food restaurant or vendor.
Only have the snacks when feeling hungry and not just because you want to put something in your mouth.
e. Do Away with Junk Foods
Keeping junk foods in plain sight and within reach will only make you start craving for them. Putting these foods away and away from your view will eliminate chances of craving for them. Ensure none of these is within your reach to be able to overcome the urge.
Benefits of Mindful Eating
It is easy for anyone to forget about the advantages and benefits that come with eating healthy. This is particularly the case with the world already obsessed with weight loss.
One thing you, however, have to know about mindful eating is that it is an all-round plan aimed at promoting good health. The same cannot be said about weight loss diet plans available today. Here are some of the benefits of eating mindfully.
1. It Promotes Self- Awareness
It is easy for one to be lost following weather reports, office memos, and traffic signs, hence forget about his/her well-being. Mindful eating, however, helps you familiarise yourself with how your body reacts to the foods you eat among other factors. It makes you emotional aware hence able to identify the foods that satisfy you best.
2. Eliminates the Risk of Energy Crashes Binges and Bloat
Mindful eating enables one to identify just the right foods to eat. This means you rarely have to deal with energy crashes, just because you turned to junk foods. In addition to this, the chances of overeating are highly unlikely, another reason you won’t suffer from bloat or indigestion any time soon.
For this reason, you get to remain energised for longer, enjoy good digestive health, and never suffer from post-snack sluggishness.
3. The Body Learns to Send Accurate Signals
Your mind also learns to interpret signals sent to it more accurately. This is unlike grazing on junk foods which sends unclear signals and messages to the brain. This throws the mind in disarray making it impossible to interpret when you are hungry or craving for something.
Mindful eating makes you realise how terrible junk food is as well. The other good thing with eating mindfully is that the body only craves for food when you are hungry.
4. It Promotes Weight Loss
Although restrictive diet plans may help you shed off a few pounds, mindful eating enables one to enjoy eating good food while promoting weight loss. It changes your perception of good food, and how you view food in the first place.
This eliminates the need to spend lots of time in the gym burning calories only to inject them back in the form of diet soda and fast foods. Mindful eating helps you uproot the problem by addressing the root cause of weight gain. It is when you start eating right that your body starts shedding off the excess weight.
How Can I Start Eating Mindfully?
This is relatively easy.
All you need to do is find a comfortable spot, get a bowl of healthy foods, then look for foods you can eat with your fingers. It’s advisable to start with healthy choices such as mixed nuts, grapes, bananas, etc.
Next, head to the comfortable, peaceful spot, recline the close your eyes. Pick up a piece of the food, say grape, with the index finger and the thumb, place it in your mouth, then start chewing it slowly. Pay particular attention to its texture, taste, and feel inside your mouth.
Chew slowly while focusing on the sensation and tastes the fruit/food is releasing. Repeat this with another piece and do it slowly enough to ensure you don’t finish the entire bowl in less than 20 minutes. Practice doing this somewhere private to be able to master it all.
Mindful eating has a positive attitude towards one’s physical and mental health.
It is all about focusing on what you are eating and being mentally present. Like any other regimen, some level of commitment is needed to become a mindful eater.
Although the journey/process might not be as smooth, staying focused on the price should help you get there. This is a lifelong habit that will help improve your overall health and how you see food.