Have you ever finished a meal or snack and not really remembered eating it? These days, everyone seems to be so busy that eating is something we do in the car, at our work desk or while watching TV. Before you know it, it’s over and you have missed what you spend so much time thinking about. This not only worsens our digestion, but also leaves our brains searching for more because as far as they’re concerned, we went ahead without them. It’s time to take a step back and focus on mindful eating.
Mindful eating is about enjoying what you are eating and registering that you have eaten. This satisfies your brain as well as your stomach, both of which are extremely important when it comes to weight management. Eating mindfully also aids in digestion because when you are taking the time to eat properly and focusing only on the food you are eating, your digestive system is able to work optimally as it’s not distracted by some other task such as writing an email or sending a text. When you eat mindfully you use all your senses to eat. This means savouring your food and taking the time to notice you are eating it. Here are my top tips for eating mindfully:
Sit down & unplug:Avoid watching TV, talking or texting on your phone, using your computer, or doing work while you eat.
Eat slowly: Put your cutlery down in between bites and ensure you finish what’s in your mouth before going for the next mouthful. If you are eating with family or friends, engage in conversation in between bites.
Chew well: Ensure you chew your food until it has a fine, pulp-like texture. You should aim for approximately 30-50 chews depending on the texture of the food you are eating.
Limit fluids: Avoid drinking excessive amounts of any fluids for 15 minutes before, during, and up to 15-20 minutes after your meals. If you feel thirsty within this timeframe, have a small sip of water only.
Embrace your senses: When eating a meal, enjoy and appreciate the colours, textures, aromas and sounds associated with eating rather than focusing solely on taste.
Eat only when you are hungry:It’s easy to fall into a pattern of mindless or emotional eating, or thinking that you must eat a certain number of meals a day. Tune into your body and eat only when you are hungry. This may mean only three meals a day without snacks and that is ok. However, you should avoid waiting until you are famished to eat a meal as this will likely lead to over-eating.
Adopt gratitude:Before you eat your meal, take a moment to appreciate and be grateful for the nourishing meal that you’re about to indulge in. This may mean pausing to acknowledge your good fortune at having this meal in front of you, or thanking the person who prepared it for you.
Mindful eating can be immensely effective for improving weight loss and digestive issues. However, this is not the only reason you should practise it. Life is to be enjoyed and that means enjoying your food too. If you are constantly distracted while eating, you will never truly appreciate the taste of your food and the hard work that has gone into preparing it. We all put so much effort into learning how to properly nourish our bodies and preparing the right types of foods to achieve this so it’s time to acknowledge the hard work we’re putting in and start practising mindful eating on a regular basis. Your body and brain will certainly thank you for it!