The concept of mindful eating has been gaining a lot of popularity in recent times, and for all the right reasons. What exactly does this term mean? It simply means paying attention to your meals rather than thoughtless stuffing of food.
When I first heard about it, I wasn’t fully convinced about all the benefits this small change could have. But anyway, I decided to give it a try. And the results were astounding. Here’s what happened when I finally started paying attention to what I ate.
I started eating just the right amount: When you just eat for the sake of eating, you miss out on the satiety signals that your body gives you. It takes around 20 mins after the meal for your brain to register that you’re full. In the fast-paced life that we live in, it normally happens that we’ve already gobbled up too much food to fast. Mindful eating changes that.
I actually started to chew my food: when we multitask while eating, we simply chew a little and just swallow. When this semi-chewed food reaches your stomach, it is very difficult for the digestive system to process and get the best out of the meal. Mindful eating takes your attention from all the surrounding activities and helps you focus on your mastication.
It became easier to maintain my weight: It is widely agreed that mindful eating helps with weight loss. But that is only if you’re overweight. If you already are in good shape, mindful eating will help you manage it easily. Mindful eating has a concept of consuming food only when you’re actually hungry, not when you’re bored or simply craving some dessert. This means that before you eat, you’ve got to ask yourself, “why am I eating?”. The only valid answer for this is that you’re hungry. If you’re bored, do something else, eating isn’t a form of entertainment!!
I started consuming lesser junk than before: Being a health freak, I was always a healthy diet person. But mindful eating helped me reduce the frequency of junk food even further. Mindful eating consists of looking at your food, understanding why you’re eating, and analyzing the nutritional value it will add. The thought of junk food ruining my health makes it less appealing already.
(P.S- It is okay to have some junk food and desserts and all the yummy dishes you like, but in a controlled manner, once in a while and in limited quantities. We are humans after all, and we all have our own set of cravings!!)
With so much work on our plate, children to take care of, household chores to manage and office deadlines to meet, this is not going to be easy. But it is definitely worth the efforts. Here are some baby steps you can take to start eating mindfully:
Start shopping healthy: When you start being mindful in the shopping stage itself half the job is done. You will have access to a variety of healthy foods whenever you decide to eat or cook, either.
Plan your meals well in advance: You have at least plan the number of meals you will have, and the snack breaks you will take to begin with. This will vary for different kinds of people. The little eaters might choose to eat more frequently and vice versa. Once this is done, have a rough idea in mind as to what you plan to eat in each of your meals. And lastly, try and stick to it as much as possible.
Eat only when you’re hungry: Reach for a food item only when you’re hungry, and you’re eating frequency will optimize itself. Studies have shown that mindful eating reduces episodes of emotional binging.
Do not wait until you’re starving: When you’re ravenously hungry, you tend to stuff in your food as fast as possible. So do not wait until this stage. If there is a huge gap between the two meals, snack up on something like a fruit or nuts in between.
Take smaller bites and chew them well: When you take big bites and overfill your mouth with food, it makes chewing pretty difficult. So, go ahead and aim for smaller sized morsels. And now that you have some room in your mouth, chew well.
Do not overfill your plate, you can always have a second serving: Once you take some food on your plate, it becomes a mental obligation to finish it. Instead, half-fill your plate first and take the second serving depending on how hungry you are.
Do not carry your phone on the dining table: It is impossible to have your phone just lying there. You will end up calling someone, checking emails, browsing through Instagram or completing that video you left halfway. And obviously gone down the drain is your mindful eating. So make it rule to not use any electronics when you eat.
Do not eat your snacks straight out of the packet: Grab a plate and portion out your snacks. When you eat directly from the bag, you do not realize the quantity or the number of servings you’ve consumed in one go alone.
Do not be very strict about avoiding the junk foods: The more you think, “I will not eat chips, I will not eat those chips..” the more you will think about it. Instead, open the damn packet, remove a few of them in a plate, and eat them with sheer joy. That way you won’t get annoyed (and as a result finish the entire family pack alone, in a single freaking sitting!)
Hold someone accountable: For some of us, it so happens that we need to be answerable to someone, to actually start something new and uncomfortable. If you feel like, just drop an email on firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll work on this together.
Lastly, sending lots of love your way, stay healthy and stay safe.