Nutrition

What Is Mindful Eating and What Are the Benefits?

Mindful eating is a way to gain control over your food, eating habits, and ultimately your health.

The Buddhist philosophy of Mindfulness is quite broad. It is a type of meditation promoting focused awareness of what you are doing in a given moment.

The Mindfulness concept is increasingly prevalent these days, with many people seeking to live better and more meaningful lives with less stress and anxiety. One area you can practice mindfulness is in the act of eating food.

What Is Mindful Eating?

Mindful eating involves paying undivided attention to your food and drink as you consume it. This practice enhances the appreciation of food and fosters observation of how it makes you feel while you eat it, as well as how you feel afterward.

It is not intended as a weight control technique or a guide to what foods you should or should not include in your diet. Mindful eating allows you to focus on the taste, texture, and your body’s reaction to each piece of food, leading to a greater awareness of your body’s signals about fullness and satisfaction.

Why Is Mindful Eating a Good Habit to Develop?

Overeating and obesity are major health issues in the world today. The overabundance of fast-food options combined with the increasing complexity of people’s lives often causes them to pay less attention to the quality and amounts of food they eat.

Applying Mindful eating through all phases of the food consumption process, including buying, cooking, serving, and eating, helps re-establish a positive and meaningful relationship with the food we eat. It helps us savor each bite and avoid overindulgence by allowing our bodies to tell us when we are full.

The Benefits of Mindful Eating

There are both mental and physical benefits to mindful eating. Being mindful of the food you eat can:

  • Help you enjoy food more
  • Help you feel full and satisfied while eating less
  • Reduce your levels of anxiety and stress
  • Improve your digestive processes
  • Positively influence your future food choices
  • Help reduce cravings and caloric intake
  • Help prevent overeating and binging
  • Help you lose weight
  • Enjoy the wellness benefits of a healthy diet
  • Allow greater enjoyment of the present moment

How To Practice Mindful Eating

The goal of mindful eating is to enhance your overall well-being by properly nourishing your body and mind. If you would like to begin practicing mindful eating, it’s best to start slowly and try it for short periods of five minutes at a time. Here are some tips to help you begin your journey toward mindful eating.

When you are about to have a meal, remember to relax. Employ good posture, and take deep breaths. Remove distractions such as TV and phones so that you can focus your full attention on eating and the present moment.

Eat slowly and in small bites. Chew the food thoroughly, up to 30 or so times. Focus on the texture and flavor of the food as you chew. What kind of taste does it have? What spices or seasonings do you detect? How does it feel in your mouth—is it thick or smooth, chewy or tender? What reactions do you have to the smell, color, and shape of the food?

Put down your spoon or fork and take a drink of water between bites. Give your brain time to process the sensations produced by the food and for it to let you know you are full.

After your meal, think about how you feel both physically and emotionally. Do you feel tired or sluggish? Or happy and full of energy? Re-visit the question a few minutes later, an hour, and several hours later. The answers will help you understand what foods meet your individual needs for nourishment and well-being.

Conclusion

Remember that any new habit takes practice. Mindful eating is a way to gain control over your food, eating habits, and ultimately your health. It is an excellent tool in helping you learn to be present and enjoy every moment, both of which are central to all Mindfulness practices.

To learn more and get additional help with mindful eating, you can visit The Center for Mindful Eating.

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