Few but increasing number of researchers agree that a slow and attentive way of eating help with weight issues and may encourage some individuals avoid processed foods and other unhealthy options.
Mindful eating is an alternative eating method which is based on the Buddhist idea of mindfulness. It encourages one to be completely aware and conscious of what is happening within and around him at the moment. These mindfulness approaches is also good for relieving from one’s stress and alleviate some health issues such as high blood pressure and severe gastrointestinal difficulties.
When this principle is applied as eating habits, mindfulness involves paying attention to the flavor, smell, colors, and textures of your food. It encourages chewing slowly and removing any distractions like watching television or reading while eating. It also help the individual learn to cope with guilt and anxiety about foods.
Mindful eating is paying attention to:
- The reason why you feel like eating and the emotions or needs that prompt you to eat.
- What you are eating, whether the foods are healthy or unhealthy.
- The smell, look, feel and the taste of the food you are eating.
- How does it feel as you tasted it, digested it, and for the entire day.
- How satisfied or sated you are before, during, and after eating.
- The emotions during and after eating.
- Knowing the source of the food, who are involved in growing or producing it, the pain it suffered before it was killed, or the food is organically grown, the costs it incurred during the processing, and more.
This mindful eating is a skill and a type of meditation that one cannot acquire overnight. This skill will take practice and times when you experience forgetting to eat mindfully, and some starts and stops. However, with dedication and persistence coupled with practice and attention, one can be very good at this method.
The Benefits of Mindful Eating
Improved digestion and absorption of essential nutrients. Eating with awareness makes us chew our food thoroughly. This will make the food easy to digest and help the body absorb the essential nutrients that are in the food – efficiently and effectively. We all know that foods have to be broken down into tiny bits for proper absorption and pass through the small passages in our small intestines. So, this means that the lesser we digest the foods in our mouth, the more effort our body make in the stomach and intestines. There are times when the body do not have the sufficient energy to digest the foods into smaller pieces, and therefore the nutrients that are found in the foods are not absorbed by our body.
The food tastes more delicious and appetizing. When our focus is on the sensations of eating, the taste is more appetizing and lively. Most people are amazed at the difference in the taste that they experience the first time they practice mindful eating.
Discourages “food hangovers” and overeating. Mindful eating involves eating our food slowly. When we eat slowly, our stomach has enough time to send signal to our brain if it is already full – a process that takes about 15 to 20 minutes. When we eat very quick, that “I’m full” signal will take longer to reach our brain, and so, we tend to overeat and cause many digestive problems. Eating too fast can also lead to “food hangover” – an experience where an individual tends to have a big dip in energy. This is because our body requires all of the energy that it can get to digest the excessive amount of food in our system.
Decreases our food cravings. There are times when we eat not just because we are hungry but for other reasons like boredom, eating as a way of dealing with out intense emotions, or just wanting to join friends who are eating. Well, of course, there is nothing wrong about these reasons or for doing things but with eating mindfully helps us reflect and know the real reasons for our food cravings.
Helps individuals lose weight. Focusing on our food may help us lose those unwanted weight. How? We will be more mindful of what we are really eating and begin to reflect if we are getting healthy benefits from the foods we are eating. Then, when we eat slowly and consequently eat less, we start to form an improved metabolism that helps us lose those unwanted weight. Also, by being in tune with our body and knowing the difference between real hunger and cravings, we will be able to practice eating only when we need it.
Easy Tips for Starters
Just eat slower, focus on the flavor, and enjoy the food.
Turn off the TV and your phone.
Know and appreciate your food.