For most of us, eating is an activity that we do unconsciously. It doesn’t require our attention to eat and we can do many other things while we eat. We write messages, read the news, talk on the phone, or watch TV. All this multitasking shows us one thing – we don’t eat mindfully. But what does mindful eating actually mean?
Mindful eating meaning:
Eating mindfully means that we eat what our body and mind need to perform at an optimal level. In other words, it means that we put our attention on how and what we eat.
Why it is so important to concentrate on eating? Unconscious eating leads us to eat more unhealthy foods or overeating. This causes various health problems later. These are the main reasons why we eat unconsciously:
It is so easy to eat too much. Usually, it happens when we eat and do other things at the same time. Our thoughts are elsewhere and we simply do not recognize that we are full already. We don’t know that fullness is more related to our awareness than just a physiological process of our bodies. We tend to eat more when we are distracted by talks, the internet, television also in the evenings when we are tired and our ability to perceive sweetness and saltiness is weaker than in the morning.
For many, food is a way to manage intensive emotions. This is how we have learned to deal with an experience of pain, irritation, or boring tasks. Emotional eating helps us feel better, more comfortable. Otherwise, sometimes when we finish difficult tasks or do an achievement we reward ourselves with food. And it’s not a bad thing unless it is the main way we deal with emotions or it is only about unhealthy foods – sweets, cakes or junk food. This leads us to lose touch with our bodies’ sensations and signs about fullness.
We all don’t have enough time throughout the day. We often take snacks and don’t actually slow down and sit down to eat a real meal. Our brains do not recognize that we are having a meal so we do not feel filled and this leads us to overeat unconsciously.
Meeting with other people at restaurants or doing a picnic with family is a great way to spend time together. On the other hand, these social interactions can also lead to overeating, because everyone else around us is eating, so you unconsciously eat together even if you don’t want to. We used to continue eating when we see other people eating, especially in a large group.
Mindful eating benefits
Mindful eating has many health benefits. Generally, mindful eating is related to a healthier, longer life. These are some of the most important benefits to our health:
- Better digestion. Food digestion begins in the mouth. Chewing food slowly solves many digestive issues: gas, bloating, indigestion.
- High blood pressure, high cholesterol, hypertension control. Mindful eating ensures that the food you eat gives enough energy to complete your daily tasks.
- Reducing food cravings. Food craving is related to the desire to eat a specific food. Usually, craved food may not actually be that satisfying when we eat mindfully.
- Weight control. As we pay attention to what we eat, we eat less. This prevents us from eating out of control and gaining extra weight.
Tips how to eat consciously
- Understand why. Our why for eating is important as our why for any other goal or action. Understanding why we want to eat and why we want to eat this food but not the other is the best way to understand what our body needs.
- Waken your awareness. To be more aware of food means to gain control over eating habits. To be more aware you need to:
- a) focus on the issues you have rather than putting them aside,
- b) get rid of mindless routines. You may likely not become a mindful eater without handling these two actions.
- Slow down. Start your mindful eating path by slowing down, and avoiding distractions with other activities while eating. We must create an environment for our brains to recognize that we are having a meal.
- Be in a moment. Being now means not thinking about the future or past and just being aware of what you are doing right now. When it comes to eating, it means evaluating your sensation and being focused on what you eat at the moment. Questions that help you evaluate your senses:
- Do you really hungry?
- Do you want to eat this?
- What do you feel when you eat this?
- Notice your food. Focus on what you put in your mouth. Notice the texture, the smell, the flavor of food you eat, and finally, swallow it. Enjoy each bite.
If you want to change your eating habits begin with small steps.
- Start practicing mindful and concentrated eating with a snack.
- Slowly bite your snack and focus on the experience.
- Slowly chew your food and notice the taste, texture, and rethink what you’re eating.
- Notice how the taste changes as you continue to chew.
- Do a pause after each swallow and listen to what your body is telling you from each bite.
Be more aware of what you feel when you eat. Take insights that you gained from the first practice, apply it to your main meals. Step by step you will gain control over your eating habits and become a mindful eater.
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Can mindfulness help you shed those extra pounds? – https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320171