Have you ever noticed that sometimes when you eat you don’t even taste what your eating? By not noticing the texture, taste or even that you may already be full before putting another bite in your mouth you often eat more that what your body really needs. As a young person food was an unhealthy addiction for me. I loved to read and eat my way through summer vacations. I was fortunate to have a supportive and nurturing mother who recognized my addiction early on and with the help of our family physician got me on the right track starting me on my journey of mindful eating. I learned that by using all my senses and choosing to eat food that was both satisfying and nourishing for my body I could change my relationship with food.
It takes the brain up to 20 minutes to realize you’re full. If you eat too fast, the fullness signal may not arrive until you’ve already eaten too much.This is common with binge eating. By eating mindfully, you pay attention and slow down, making eating an intentional act instead of an automatic one. By recognizing physical hunger and fullness cues, you can distinguish between emotional and actual, physical hunger. You will recognize those triggers that make you want to eat even though your not necessarily hungry and by knowing your triggers, you can create some thinking time allowing you to take the time and freedom to chose what to do.
It is a well-known fact that most weight loss programs don’t work in the long term. A harvard study published February 2011 found 85% of obese individuals who lost weight returned to or exceeded their initial weight within a few years. A small growing body of research suggests that a slower, more thoughtful way of eating could help with weight problems and maybe steer some people away from processed food and other less-healthful choices. Mindful eating is based on the Buddhist concept of mindfulness, which involves being fully aware of what is happening within and around you at the moment. When applied to eating, mindfulness includes noticing the colors, smells, flavors, and textures of your food; chewing slowly; getting rid of distractions like TV or reading; and learning to cope with guilt and anxiety about food.
Experts suggest starting gradually with mindful eating, eating one meal a day or week in a slower, more attentive manner. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Set your kitchen timer to 20 minutes, and take that time to eat a normal-sized meal.
Try eating with your non-dominant hand; if you’re a righty, hold your fork in your left hand when lifting food to your mouth.
Eat silently for five minutes, thinking about what it took to produce that meal, from the sun’s rays to the farmer to the grocer to the cook.
Take small bites and chew well.
Before opening the fridge or cabinet, take a breath and ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” Do something else first, like read or go on a short walk then, if you truly are hungry have something that satisfies you.
Mindful eating like anything needs to be practiced in order for it to become a habit. The health benefits are well worth the extra time and attention that it requires.