Do you grab and quickly eat your breakfast on the go? Do you scarf down your lunch because you think you have so many things to get done each day? Did you know that by mindlessly eating your food you could unconsciously be contributing to your body’s weight gain?
Luckily for all of us, there is a simple solution called mindful eating that can lend a hand in becoming a happier, healthier you!
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is the practice of consuming food in a slower, more thoughtful manner. Eating mindfully involves a “focus on the senses.” When you sit down to eat, take into consideration how the food smells, the colors of the meal, the different textures and the taste of each bite.
Why is It Helpful?
The Japanese call this practice Hara Hachi Bu which basically means “leave the table when you’re 80% full.” This is because studies show it takes about 20 minutes for the brain to register satiety, or fullness, due to the communication between hormones and the nervous system. When you eat quickly, you don’t give your body a chance to recognize this fullness signal and end up overeating meals or overindulging in treats.
Bringing It All Together
Mindful eating can support all sorts of beneficial health behaviors including weight loss and improved digestion. Slowing down and enjoying your food can have additional health benefits like decreased blood pressure and reductions in gastrointestinal distress. With the known link between mindfulness based interventions and treatment of chronic conditions such as obesity, talk with your medical provider, registered dietitian or health coach about implementing this beneficial behavior therapy into your daily routine.
Tips for Eating Mindfully
- Try using your non-dominant hand during a meal: if you are right-handed, try holding your fork in your left hand and vice-versa!
- Set a timer for 20 minutes during mealtime and try to use the entire time to finish your meal. This practice slows the pace at which you are eating and supports the signals between your brain and stomach that tell you “I’m full, stop eating!”
- Take small bites of your food and chew well. Not only will this help you digest your food better, but it will help you taste your food more fully.
- Before opening the refrigerator or pantry ask yourself, “Am I really hungry? Could something else satisfy what I am feeling right now?” You may find, a big glass of water or a short walk outside is what you need instead!