SHA Magazine Healthy nutrition
The Mindful Eating Movement
Many of us have probably heard about mindfulness and meditation. However, have you heard about mindful eating?
So, what is mindful eating? Mindful eating is an approach to eating where one becomes more conscious and aware of the body’s needs and in response is able to judge what food to consume and how much of it. By being more in tune with the body, we are able to nourish it with what it needs and avoid overeating and make more conscious decisions of the food we eat.
How do you practice Mindful Eating?
Part of mindful eating is being able to be in the present and leave all distractions aside. These include technological stimuli like mobile phones and television. Having distractions whilst eating can result in overeating, bloating, and feeling unsatiated. When you don’t pay attention to the food you eat, it’s hard to tell how much you’ve eaten. Your focus has been elsewhere, therefore, the simple act of chewing becomes completely unconscious.
Chew properly and eat slowly
By being present when chewing, you make sure not to eat too quickly and swallow food without having chewed it properly. The mouth is the first part of the digestive system, where the initial process of food breakdown occurs. Therefore, by chewing as much as possible, the digestion of food can occur quicker and more easily.
Are you hungry or anxious?
Another aspect of mindful eating is identifying when you’re truly hungry and when your hunger is a result of an emotional stimulus. When we are emotionally unstable, we tend to crave foods that are unhealthy for us, like sugar laden chocolates. Being able to identify these cravings as a result of an emotional instability is a crucial factor in mindful eating. It’s becoming aware with oneself and understanding what the body needs. This way, we eat when we are hungry, we are able to eat the right amount of food our body requires and avoid eating unhealthy foods.
Don’t eat until you’re completely full
The inhabitants of a remote island in Japan called Okinawa, are said to be the people who live the longest, up to 100 years old. Their secret lies in what they call ‘hara hachi bu’, which translated means ‘eating until you are only 80% full’. We’ve become accustomed to eating without measure and aim to eat until we are full. However, it’s not healthy to eat till you’re border line full. This pushes the digestive system into overdrive and causes it to have to over work, which is one of the reasons we feel exhausted after a big meal.
Part of eating more mindfully is eating the right amount of food your body needs, and not going over that limit. That’s why eating slowly and chewing properly is very important to have an awareness of when you’ve had enough. It takes 20 minutes for the stomach to detect that it’s full. If you eat very quickly, you won’t notice you’re full yet and this can cause you to eat more. Therefore, master the art of eating mindfully and you’ll notice you feel much lighter and better. Your digestion will work efficiently and you’ll avoid having those energy slumps after a big meal.
To sum up, Mindful Eating consists of:
- Eating slowly and chewing properly
- Eating when you’re hungry, not for the sake of eating
- Eating till you’re about 70 % full
- Identifying your cravings. Do you get the need to eat when you’re emotionally unstable? If so, try and overcome those feelings.
- Drinking plenty of water. The same part of the brain that controls hunger also controls thirst. Therefore, make sure to drink enough water throughout the day to avoid overeating.
Why not join the Mindful Eating movement? You’ll feel more connected with yourself, your digestion will improve and you’ll feel much better!