First thing first – Mindful Eating is not a diet!
Food makes up your body. It is the reason why your body exists. So, besides what you eat, how you eat also plays a crucial role in the making of your body.
In today’s fast-paced world, where everyone is in a hurry and multi-tasking, being mindful, a Buddhist practice of being fully present and sensing without judging, connects you with the environment around you.
Similarly, mindful eating makes you fully aware of the eating experience and your thoughts and feelings about food. It helps in slowing down the eating process and savours every bite. When we pay attention to what we eat, it tastes better and more satisfying.
Understanding hunger, craving and fullness cues
Hunger can be deceiving. Many people may misunderstand the body’s sign of being hungry. You eat and still not satisfied, you don’t eat for a long time and still don’t feel hungry. Mindful eating encourages you to explore and understand the difference in advance of a meal and prevent unnecessary food intake. It may help you in cutting down on your food cravings.
When you pay more attention to the feeling of fullness or focus more on the flavours, you become aware that you have had enough.
Weight loss/ Fitness Goal
Weight loss can be another one of the benefits of mindful eating. It has been observed that when people start feeding actual hunger cues, they’re likely to lose weight.
Mindful eating can also help you change unhealthy eating habits. It can also help curb binge eating, emotional eating and hedonic eating. Because when you eat mindfully, you are not just sitting down and eating. You pay attention to your patterns around food, when you eat, where you eat and why you eat.
Mindful eating can be used as a tool to recognize and change your eating behaviours and thereby develop other benefits as well.
Mindful eating does not restrict any type of food and so allows you to have a wider variety of food on your menu.
Practising mindful eating can aid good digestion, reduce overeating, enhance the flavours of food and improve your psychological relationship with food.
How to practice mindful eating
Here are some tips that can help you practice mindful eating:
Come to the table with an appetite.
Take at least 15min to sit down and enjoy your meal.
Avoid distractions whilst eating.
Do not rush. Schedule time to eat your meal when you have adequate time.
Always sit and eat.
Eat everything on a plate or bowl even if it has come in a packet.
Make efforts to chew your food thoroughly and consciously.
Savour and taste your food using all your senses – look, feel, smell and taste.
We eat to nourish our body and provide nutrition to facilitate optimal functioning. Paying attention to what and how we are eating makes you feel better both physically and psychologically.