Written Exclusively for Wellspace SF by Mary Tracy Thursday August 29, 2019
Mindfulness is a Buddhist concept that’s been gaining traction for a while now. It’s a form of meditation that helps a person become more in touch with their thoughts, actions and surroundings. Mindfulness uncovers the intention behind each of our actions and in turn understands how our body and mind work in the process.
Similarly, mindful eating is the practice of regaining control over our eating habits. It requires listening to the body and being more conscious of the often-involuntary act of consuming too much food. Becoming more aware of the many factors that are involved in the act of eating such as emotions and physical cues, allow us to have a better relationship with ourselves, and what we put into our bodies.
Why should you try it?
Healthline explains how mindful eating promotes weight loss, reduces binge eating, and enables a more positive relationship with food. It’s used as a technique to treat conditions such as eating disorders, depression, and anxiety. Through mindful eating, we’re able to distinguish between true hunger and ‘non-hunger’ triggers. The practice engages the five senses when eating, allowing us to appreciate each meal instead of mindlessly shoving food into our mouths.
Ultimately, mindful eating helps us maintain overall health and wellbeing. This is especially important today, as obesity is on the rise. Cancer.org looked at a report published in 2018 where obesity rates among adults rose from 33.7% to 39.6%. Being overweight leads to a variety of health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes.
Today, it is more important than ever to take control of your diet as the U.S. healthcare industry is currently understaffed. Maryville University details the alarming statistics that indicate how the shortage of primary care physicians is expected to reach a minimum of 100,000 by 2025. The looming lack of doctors coupled with the rising rates of obesity will cause a further strain on the healthcare industry. This in turn will increase waiting times and could even lead to people paying more to get treated faster.
However, the good news is that poor diet choices, which are causing more people to need hospital treatment, can be reversed. Mindful eating can prevent individuals from putting on extreme amounts of weight, lessening the chances of chronic illness linked to obesity. Below, we’ll look at six key pointers of mindful eating to help you start your journey towards better health and wellbeing.
1. Slow down and listen to your body’s signals
Many people eat too fast without knowing they’re actually full. Slowing down and listening to your body while eating allows you to recognize your body’s signals in telling your brain that it’s had enough.
2. Know when to eat—understand when your body’s hungry
Know the difference when you’re responding to an emotional want or to a physical need to eat. Many of us tend to eat because we find emotional triggers to do so like stress, sadness or frustration. Instead, learn to identify hunger through physical cues like low energy or a growling stomach. Mindful eating allows us to listen deep into the body’s signals for hunger.
3. Develop healthy eating environments
One of the worst diet habits is raiding the kitchen and eating at random times of the day. It’s better to think proactively about our meals, and making sure we eat at structured times and places. When we limit ourselves to eating with others, this makes it less likely for us to binge while multitasking. It also allows us to have a better relationship with food, as it is centered around connecting with others.
4. Find food that nourishes you
Not all food will nourish us. A lot of the food we eat is emotionally comforting rather than nutritionally healthy. Through mindfulness, we practice eating healthier foods that both mentally and physically satisfy us. Kristy Crandell states the importance of not mindlessly following fad diets that dictate what we should and shouldn’t eat, rather than understanding what’s truly good for us.
5. Be conscious where your food comes from
Conscious consumption is being aware of where our food comes from and how it was made. Instead of seeing your meal just for what it is, try to understand what your food went through before it arrived on your plate. This will help appreciate the act of eating more, allowing us to savor every bite.
6. Lessen your distractions
Lastly, mindful eating means doing away with other distractions when it’s time to dine. Avoid multitasking like watching TV or working while eating because these are instances that lead to overeating. Try just eating your next meal with no distractions, and enjoy it for what it is: an enjoyable experience all on its own.