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There has been a lot of news about mindful eating, but you may not be familiar with the actual definition.
Mindful eating is a process that you use to gain control over eating habits. Sometimes you eat when you’re tired, bored, or simply killing time. During those eating rituals, time may seem to pass quickly without your noticing, or even more distressing, you look down and realize that you completely obliterated a bag of snacks that you just purchased that day.
Oops! A perfect example of “mindless eating”.
Mindless eating is eating without even being aware of it or not even necessarily being hungry. It’s simply just putting food into your mouth for reasons that don’t have anything to do with hunger Your brain isn’t even involved either—this leads to you eating WAY more than you had planned.
So, what exactly is mindful eating?
When you are practicing mindful eating, you automatically shift your thoughts from thinking about food to more exploring how you eat and less on what you eat. With mindful eating, you eat food carefully in order to fuel the body.
Here are several tips to help you on the journey to eat more mindfully.
Opposite Hand Test
One way to gain insight into just how often you eat mindlessly, you could just take one week out of your schedule to eat food using your other hand.
Doing this demands that your brain has to be engaged in the act of eating. Because it’s unnatural for you to eat with your other hand, your brain needs to send a message to that hand to pick up the food and place it in your mouth. You would be amazed to realize just how much of mindless eating you do!
Focus on the Meal
Another step to good mindful eating habits is to focus on the meal and on the overall experience. This is to say in a very literal sense to focus on how it looks, what it’s made of, and to notice things about what you’re eating. This will cause you to slow down to truly have control over how much you are eating during your meal. As you learn to savor the taste of the food, rather than shoveling it and swallowing as quickly as possible, you will have an enjoyable experience that allows your body to digest and chew your food effectively.
Many times, it is easy to binge eat food when you’re distracted. This means that when you are first trying to retrain your mind and body to eat properly, it might be a good idea to decrease the amount of distractions such as television or social media when you are sitting down to have a meal. Snack foods are made to tempt the senses and be momentarily enjoyable, but when you take away the focus of eating and allow your hands to go into auto pilot, that could be a path directly to unmonitored eating.
A 20-Minute Pause
When it comes to eating seconds, a good rule to use is the “Wait 20 minutes” before you eat more food rule. Science has been telling people that it takes a small amount of time between the consumption of food and the brain’s ability to register that the food has been eaten. If you wait the full 20 minutes and still feel hungry, there’s a chance that you’re still hungry, but if you got distracted and found some other way to fill your time during the 20 minutes before eating anything, then you just might have been bored.
Does It Work for Everyone?
Not always. The greatest downfall to Mindful eating is that some individuals simply lack the required sensitivity, and therefore may be better suited to a more control-based diet with an emphasis on tracking the nutritional components of what’s eaten.
Mindful eating isn’t a fad or a diet style, which is simply a meal-plan with a deadline. It is instead, an approach to life that ultimately acknowledges the power of proactivity and an awareness of habit, routine, and reactivity to emotional stress and boredom.
Mindful eating teaches individuals to use their intuition and is therefore a practical and life-long approach to achieving positive fitness and health outcomes.
I have struggled with mindful eating since the transplant. While on dialysis, my diet was limited – I had to limit my intake of dairy, protein, beans, fluids, and other things (cokes and other dark sodas!). In other words, I was very mindful while eating. Since the surgery, my diet pretty much returned to normal (no blue cheeses, no grapefruit, pomegranate, or cranberries) but my eating habits became a bit more mindless. I was just happy to not have to think about what I was going to eat next…
I am working on the happy medium – being able to eat what I want but controlling my portions!
Have a wonderful weekend!
Loving Life–The Reboot!
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