While there is a lot of information about the best food to eat, there is very scarce information that teaches us how to take a mindful approach when consuming food. Although we are all taught the food pyramid, which consists of four groups of food including dairy, fat, fruits, and proteins, we are not taught how to eat. Yes, we are taught what to eat and what not to eat; however, we don’t have any lessons on how to eat in a typical day. This has led to a systematic increase in weight and ultimately to today’s obesity epidemic.
Mindful eating is not taught in any school or university, so applying it to our daily lives is something that many of us may struggle with. For this reason, a lot of people have many misconceptions about food and the role it plays in our health. This has led to many people using food as a substance for pleasure rather than nourishment. In this article, we are going to discuss mindful eating habits and their benefits.
What is Mindfulness? Religion or Practice?
Mindfulness is something that is often associated with meditation and religion. Other people may just consider it a weird way of thinking. However, Mindfulness is not weird thinking or a form of religion. Rather, mindfulness is a state of active and open attentiveness to your environment and the present moment. This is a practice in which you observe your thoughts without any judgment.
Additionally, this practice ensures that life doesn’t rush past you. It’s human nature to keep our mind so preoccupied with the past and plans for the future that we often neglect to live in the moment.
How Mindful Eating Reduces Obesity
According to the latest statistics, Adult obesity in the US is over 35 percent in 5 states, 25 percent in 46 states, and 30 percent in 25 states. As reported in the US National library of medicine, about 300,000 deaths annually are caused by obesity. These alarming statistics are certainly good reason for concern.
When we become mindful of the food we eat, we will adopt healthier habits, which will prevent unnecessary weight gain. Various studies have been conducted on obesity and mindful eating. The best thing about these studies is that they have shown positive results for participants looking to lose weight.
Mindful eating it the practice of eating mindfully. This means that you need to be fully aware of what you are experiencing. Are you able to differentiate between the physical cues telling you that you are hungry, or just experiencing a craving? Differentiating the two will help you eat your food when it is necessary, and not just for pleasure.
When thinking of these physical cues, you should pay attention to things such as how full you feel when consuming food. When you are practicing mindful eating, you know when to stop, which goes a long way in weight management.
How Mindfulness Makes You Healthier
According to Harvard health records, mindful eating brings about many positive changes to patients suffering from weight complications, anxiety, stress, and depression. Additionally, research shows that using mindfulness-based stressed reduction therapy can help in the reduction of the cognitive processes that underlie the aforementioned clinical issues.
Practicing mindfulness can put you back in touch with your body, improve your capacity to treat yourself and others with patience and compassion, boost productivity, and reduce stress.
How to Start Eating Mindfully
Would you love to begin eating mindfully, but don’t know where to start? If your answer is yes, you’ve already completed half the battle. Starting this process means that you are ready to embrace change. You will not receive the desired results if you approach mindful eating as an obligation. Having a strong support system will increase your chance of success. It’s always easier to reach our goals when we have someone else to hold us accountable and encourage us along the way. Below are some tips to help you get started.
Start Slow and Make Gradual Changes
When beginning mindful eating you should start doing this with one meal per day. After this, you can gradually increase it to two meals daily and then three meals when you have refined the habit.
1. Eat in Silence
Turning off any noise that may distract you while eating will ensure that you are maintaining mindfulness without any distractions. You will also grow to appreciate your time and the effort spent preparing the meal that you are eating.
2. Avoid Eating Fast
Consuming your food slowly will give your body time to communicate with the brain. It takes about 10 to 20 minutes for your brain to tell your body that it is full.
3. Chew your Food Slowly
While this might sound silly, eating your food fast will not only mean that your food is not well-chewed but also you will not actually have time to appreciate its flavor. Improper chewing can lead to various complications in food digestion such as gas, bloating, and indigestion. Being mindful when eating allows you to chew your food well and gives your stomach an easier time.
4. Turn the Senses On
Embrace your sense of taste by trying to identify all the ingredients and spices that are in your food. This will actually help you enjoy your meal more.
5. Be Thankful
As stated earlier, being mindful is related to appreciation. By adopting a grateful attitude, you can remember how the food you’re eating will sustain your well-being.
What to do when your Family and Friends don’t Understand your Mindfulness
Most often when we make a sudden lifestyle change your friends and family might have a hard time understanding you. Change is not welcomed by many, for this reason when changing the dynamic of something as socially vital as mealtime, some of your family members might not take it very well. However, finding a supportive social environment will make this transition smoother. Below are some of the tips that can help your family understand the need for a change.
1. Help them Understand why you are Making the Changes
The first thing to do is to let your family and friends understand why you decided to make the change. You can also communicate with them what type of support you need from them and why this is important for you.
2. Assist them in Understanding the Importance of Mindfulness
Take it upon yourself to teach your family and friends the importance of mindful and mindfulness eating. By letting them understand the benefits and positivity associated with your decision, some of them might even join you.
3. Educate and Spread Awareness
Don’t assume that just because your family and friends may not join you on the journey of mindfulness that they will not want to learn what mindful eating is. By sharing your experience, they can accept that this has become part of your life and while ensuring they still feel involved.
4. Avoid Being Pushy and Respect their Views
Everyone is entitled to his or her opinions. For this reason, don’t expect that everyone will embrace mindful eating. While it would be great if everyone appreciates and starts practicing mindful eating, you should still respect their perspectives and views.
5. Start Doing things that Relate to Mindfulness as a Group
Experience is the best teacher. By demonstrating something that relates to mindfulness you can not only help others learn but improve your own understanding in the process
Mindful eating is a great practice that can help transform various aspects of our lives. By practicing mindful eating regularly, we can minimize unhealthy eating habits that lead to obesity and illnesses related to being overweight. Mindful eating is also the only pathway to conscious living. Being conscious of your eating habits will ultimately help you adopt healthy eating habits, which is great for your overall wellbeing.