Eating is natural, pleasurable and something we mainly do to satisfy our hunger. However, in our all around food, diet-obsessed culture, eating is many times mindless and connected with guilt.
On the contrary, mindful eating is a practice which focuses on bringing back the consciousness – how food affects our bodies, feelings and mind – and also the most forgotten, but so important part of healthy eating.
Mindful eating is a practise to handle that troubled love-hate relationship with food.
Eating fast and feeling dissatisfied
You know these times when you finish your meal in 5 minutes in front of the laptop, distracted and you realise that everything all a sudden is gone and you feel empty, like you need more. Its called mindless eating, when we eat while being stressed out and disconnected and when our minds are somewhere else, we lose awareness of how much, what and why we are eating.
We eat because it’s a habit, or because something looks too good to be avoided, to distract ourselves or because we want to soothe away unpleasant feelings. Additionally,, because we don’t pay attention to the flavours of our meal and the present moment, we feel like something is missing.
So what’s the consequences? We eat more, we take another portion or we finish the meal with something sweet.
For many of us (myself included before), this is how we eat on a daily basis and when we do so, we avoid our natural hunger pangs that tells us if we need to eat, we use food as a way to enhance or avoid feelings and we can get digestive problems, because we are swallow big chunks of food.
Mindful eating can help you become healthier
Mindful eating is about becoming conscious and create understanding about our eating behaviour – what to eat, how to eat, how much to eat, and why we eat what we eat.
When we are more present we tend to make healthier choices, because we are aware of what we eat, how much and why, we have a better understanding and insight, gratitude and compassion will arise within us.
Studies from the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California even suggests that mindful eating can lead to other benefits than just making healthy food choices and recognizing when we’re full; it has also showed that mindful eating could improve glucose levels and heart health more than behavioral weight-loss programs that don’t teach mindful eating.
This particular study was done on 200 adults, divided into two groups over a five-and-a-half month period, with a subsequent one-year follow up. Both groups were given identical diet and exercise guidelines. The group that also practiced mindfulness program got training on mindfulness meditation and how to practice awareness of their thoughts, feelings, and body during eating and exercise. 18 months after the start, the participants in the mindfulness program lost an estimated 4.3% of body weight on average more than those who didn’t practise mindfulness and payed attention to their behaviour. The mindfulness program group also had more positive effects on fasting blood glucose and triglycerides to HDL-cholesterol levels, values which are clearly linked to a person’s risk og getting Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular disease or not.
5 Benefits of practicing mindful eating
- Awareness of your physical and emotional cues
- Recognition of your non-hunger triggers for eating
- Understand your own needs and feelings in a more effective way than by eating
- How to choose food for both satisfaction and nourishment
- Using the your energy to live the vibrant life dream of
5 Questions to ask yourself
– Why do I eat?
– Any other reason than hunger?
If yes, which ones?
– When do I feel like eating?
– When do I think about eating?
– When do I decide to eat?
– What do I eat?
– What is on your plate?
– Is it anything I would like to improve when it comes to what you eat?
– How do I eat?
– Sitting, standing, distracted, fast, slow? Describe!
5. How Much?
– How much do I eat?