Exploring the Wellness Benefits of Mindful Eating
- January 20, 2024
- Nutritional Psychology
- 0 Comments
Sometimes, life is too busy, and we often care less about our eating routine. This might make you feel stressed, tired, and struggling with weight.
You are used to trying different diet methods, but they don’t work well. It can be frustrating and make you feel guilty about your body or what you eat.
The good news is that there is a simple and amazing way to change how you approach food – Mindful eating. This awesome way allows you to feel deeper inside your mind and your body. It can help you connect with food, know what you eat and how you obtain it, sleep well, and make you feel better about yourself.
In this blog, you’ll explore how mindful eating can bring joy to your meals, improve your well-being, and guide you toward a healthier and happier life.
Table of Contents
What is Mindful Eating?
We first talk about mindfulness because it is a key element of mindful eating.
Mindfulness is the ability to pay attention and be fully aware of what is happening both inside (in your body and heart) and outside yourself (in your environment). Mindfulness is awareness without judgment or criticism.
Mindful eating is a way to reawaken your pleasure by simply eating and drinking. You can learn to be kind when you eat and learn how you feel when you are eating.
In mindful eating, we are not comparing or judging. It’s like a journey to experience all parts of you: your body, heart, and mind. It allows us to be curious and playful as we investigate our food responses and inner cues to hunger and satisfaction.
Everyone eats mindlessly on occasion. It’s pretty normal.
- Mostly aware of eating but slips up occasionally.
- Enters trance-like eating when stressed or tired.
- Struggles with portion awareness, especially with favorite foods; surprised by weight gain despite general body awareness.
- Loses track when dining with mindless eaters.
- Maintains consistent weight; gradual or sporadic weight gain.
- Notices body changes during holidays or vacations.
- Feels overly full at restaurants.
- Prone to overeating with new or nostalgic foods.
- Generally tuned in to hunger but may lose track when busy.
- Vulnerable to automatic thoughts like “I’ll start my diet tomorrow.”
- Thinks about food but may resort to habitual eating when overwhelmed.
- Experiences guilt after overeating.
- Tends to be self-critical when eating too much.
- Uses healthy activities for relief but occasionally eats for stress.
- Overeats during extreme anxiety.
- Frustration after overeating is generally not a recurring issue.
- Uses food for celebration or socializing.
Mindful eating offers a multitude of benefits for both our body and mind. Embracing this practice can lead to positive changes in various aspects of our lives, from improved physical health to enhanced mental well-being.
- Nutritious Choices and Portion Control:
- Mindful eating encourages you to make healthier food choices.
- Controlling your portion sizes improves digestion and nutrient absorption.
- Weight Management:
- Mindful eating reduces overeating and better weight management.
- Aids in recognizing emotional hunger versus physical hunger, contributing to a healthy weight.
- Be friends with Food:
- Focus on your emotional eating; help you understand your thoughts and feelings when eating.
- Act self-compassion, be kind to yourself, and not judge your body.
- Enhanced Well-Being:
- Eating mindfully brings you the joy of food, making food taste even better.
- Improves your social connections, like sharing meals with your friends and family.
- No More Diet Stress:
- Shift your mindset from thinking of food as nourishment and enjoyment.
- Improve positive thinking about a balanced view of food.
- Increased Mindfulness:
- Give you overall mindfulness and present-moment awareness.
- Help you pay attention to daily healthy meals.
- Reduce Stress:
- Acts as a friend for reducing stress, helps you relax and feel calm when eating,
- You notice your body signals; mindful eating brings you a sense of peace.
Mindfulness is a skill anyone can learn. We all have the ability to subtly, minutely, and very widely aware within us, but it is often forgotten. However, you can train yourself to cultivate mindfulness, whether it’s during meals or in various aspects of your life. Here are five principles to guide you in developing mindfulness while eating.
The first step to being mindful is to become more aware. You might think that you are very conscious—maybe even painfully aware—of how you eat.
But mindfulness is a special kind of awareness. It’s not just about bringing things into your consciousness but especially focusing your attention and senses.
The good news about developing this type of awareness is that it doesn’t take a lot of effort or time. It does not require any actions or significant changes.
Instead, it advises you to reorient where you place your attention and mental focus. And using your five senses (sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch) to cultivate this kind of mindful awareness.
#2 Observing What’s on Your Mind
Observing is just seeing it like it is, without comments or judgment. When you observe, take a mental step back.
You should conduct a mind experiment. Simply observe what happens inside and outside of yourself when you are hungry instead of when you are not. Write down in a notebook or digital journal how your mind thinks when you are hungry.
You can do this exercise again at various states of hunger and fullness when you are a little hungry, starving, and starving. Try it at different times of the day.
Read more: How Nutrition Impacts Mental Well-being
We often have the habit of eating very quickly. Perhaps because of the influence of the hustle and bustle of urban life. Have you found yourself eating while driving, walking, or standing?
Eating quickly is not good. Because you barely taste the food, have only a vague experience of what you’ve eaten, and are very likely to want more. When eating slowly, your mouth enjoys different textures.
Chewing well can give your mouth more exercise and help you get more nutrients from what you eat.
Here is a great way to slow down your eating and drink
- Pause before beginning the meal
- Take a moment to say grace
- Begin the meal by pausing to inhale the fragrance of the food
- Eat like a wine connoisseur who tastes wine
- If you notice that you are eating without tasting, stop and pause to look at the food again.
Have you sat at the same dinner table for each meal? Eat the same cereal every single day?
Inflexible eating routines are a common reason for mindless eating.
A common habit is to categorize food based on emotions. This means you may look at a food and automatically think, “Too fattening,” or “That brownie is bad!” or I don’t like it.
Categories may be problematic when you typecast a food mindlessly, automatically. In other words, you decide to eat it based on what arbitrary category you’ve placed the food in rather than many other factors, like whether it tastes good, is healthy for you, etc.
So be wary of categorizing food based on your feelings. Start to pay attention to whether you make choices based on emotional reflexes or dieting restrictions rather than mindfully tuning in.
When you feel like you are eating because of upset or stress, it might be a sign of avoiding your emotions. Instead of reaching for food, you can try to face your feelings.
When the urge to stress eat hits, grab a piece of candy like butterscotch or peppermint or something similar. Sit quietly, suck on the candy without chewing, and let it slowly melt. Focus on your thoughts and feelings as you wait. After the candy is completely gone, recheck with yourself. If you still need stress eating, try the process again with another candy.
Another effective exercise is to take a moment to sit calmly in your car or before bedtime. Ask yourself if there are any emotions, feelings, thoughts, or problems you’re trying to avoid. If you have, don’t push them away; try to embrace and understand them. This is a healthier way to help you deal with stress and emotional eating.
Mindful eating is not theoretical. It cannot be accomplished by reading a book. Mindful eating is based on experience. Only an actual experience makes the truth alive in our bodies and hearts. We could tell you many times how valuable mindful eating can be, but it cannot satisfy you until you try it.