Mindful Eating: Savoring Flavor One Bite at a Time
In this fast-paced world we live in, it’s no surprise that we eat while sitting at the computer, in front of the television or even while driving. These distractions not only affect us enjoying the food we’re consuming, but they also don’t allow our bodies to respond to the food we eat in a healthy way. One important concept being researched more is the focus of mindfulness or mindful eating.
Mindful eating is a physical and emotional awareness of eating, allowing yourself to savor food one bite at a time, while being mindful of what you’re consuming without distractions. Mindful eating helps you to recognize and respond to satiety and not only help you enjoy the food you’re eating more, but has been shown to improve your health.
Eating in a Mindful Way
Allowing yourself to consume a variety of foods without restrictions or distractions can allow you to enjoy the food without guilt or negativity. One main emphasis of mindful eating is focusing on eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re satisfied, not stuffed.
Eating foods from each food group, including a variety of dairy (at least 3 servings per day) is especially helpful when trying to consume a variety of nutritious and satisfying foods. Research shows that high-quality protein, like the protein found in all dairy products, helps aid in satiety which can help you consume less calories overall.
In addition, having nutritious food readily available and eating 3-5 times per day can help minimize overeating while ensuring adequate nutrients and energy are still consumed. Snacks such as yogurt and fruit or cheese and whole grain crackers are excellent healthy choices to eat between meals to satisfy your hunger.
Mindful Eating Benefits
- Research has shown mindful eating has positive effect on weight reduction, chronic pain, cancer, stress, depression and quality of life.
- Mindful eating has shown to have positive effects on food choices and glycemic control for type 2 diabetes patients.
- Studies have shown that mindful eating strategies may help treat eating disorders such as binge eating disorder. Mindful-eating-based therapy was put into action with a group of 150 binge eaters and after treatment the participants showed a reduction in binging and depression; participants also displayed more control over their eating.
Mindful Eating Exercises
- Hunger Scale: Record your meals and snacks for a few days and use a hunger scale with a range from 0 to 10 (0 being the most hungry and 10 being the least hungry). First, ask yourself what does 0 feel like when you’re the most hungry? Then ask yourself what does 10 feel like? Before, during and after each snack and meal, stop and ask yourself what number you are and how you feel about it. This strategy not only allows you stop and think during eating, it also brings awareness to your level of hunger which you may have been unaware of before.
- Eat one piece of food mindfully: Take a piece of fruit or cheese and inspect the food, pay attention to the texture, aroma and appearance. Place the food in your mouth and wait 30 seconds noticing the flavor and texture, then finish eating the food and focus on how it tastes. Compare this to how you normally eat.
Using some of these mindful eating techniques and taking the time to savor each bite can not only help you enjoy eating more but also can positively affect your health.