Mindful Eating 101

An Interesting and Time-Tested Approach to Building a Better Diet

Many people are setting physical fitness goals, including losing excess weight. While monitoring what kind of foods you eat and portion sizes are critical, don’t underestimate the focus on how you eat. The fastest way to sabotage your fitness and weight loss goals is to eat mindlessly, not paying attention to the very fact that you are eating. Like everything meaningful in our lives, the ability to be present to the moment will transform our daily experience and therefore our lives.

What happens when one eats mindlessly? Without intentional decision-making in our eating, we tend to eat with our emotions (which can fluctuate from minute to minute). If we are eating emotionally, we are at risk of ignoring our body’s natural signals that we are physically full. Going beyond the point of being full is a major factor in weight gain, especially if it is habitual.

Another risk of emotional, mindless eating is the phenomenon of ignoring hunger signals. If we are letting our feelings rule our actions, we may not even notice our hunger pangs until they catapult us into a ravenous over-eating episode. Similarly, we may eat when we are not hungry out of anger, boredom, sadness, or anxiety. Becoming the master of your own emotions can benefit not only your mental health, but your waistline, blood pressure, and heart health as well!

Set a timer

Make sure you take at least 20 minutes to eat a meal. If you decide that you are going to take a definite amount of time, you can avoid rushing through your meals in a mindless way. Carving out time for a meal is also conducive to making your meal a social event. Eating slowly while enjoying the company of family and friends not only boosts overall mood but aids in proper digestion as well.

Switch hands

Try using your non-dominant hand when you eat. Because this will feel awkward and slow you down, you will necessarily become more conscious of your eating. It sounds simple, but this simple change can cause a major shift in your eating habits.

Meditate 

Eat silently for a few minutes at a time while thinking about the many steps your food took to make it to your plate: the sun’s rays, the work of the farmer, the grocery display, and the cooking of the meal.

Take small bites

Dividing your food into small bites will help you slow down and mindfully enjoy your food. The increased chewing time will help you thoroughly digest your meal. A new study from the University of Arizona finds that eating in smaller bites results in feeling satisfied at an earlier point than eating in larger bites–even if the exact number of calories are consumed!

Feel the hunger 

Before beginning to eat, pause to decide if you are truly physically hungry. If you engage in another activity first–chatting, reading, walking, or simply drinking water–your body will let you know if it truly requires food at that moment.

For more tips on nutrition, proper diet, and an all-around healthier lifestyle, visit our Healthy Diet archives here at Top Fitness Mag.