The Benefits of Mindful Eating
Most people will have eaten mindlessly at some point. The culture we live in means we have access to technology that can often act as a distraction. Whether you’re eating your lunch in front of your work computer, looking at your phone during your break or eating your dinner in front of the TV in the evening, it could be affecting you more than you think.
Mindful eating is the opposite of mindless eating and helps you to become more aware of what you’re eating. The benefits of applying this to your eating habits are plentiful and can help you to develop a more healthy and conscious relationship with food.
When mindless eating, you’re not paying attention to what you’re eating and how it tastes. Savouring the flavours and the amount of food you’re eating can not only help you to enjoy your food more, but can also stop you from eating unnecessary calories.
Gaining more control over what you eat and why can support you in losing any excess weight and maintaining a healthier diet. Taking a mindful approach to your diet can help to identify eating habits you would like to change and develop a healthier outlook on what you’re eating.
Practicing mindfulness on a regular basis, in everyday life and eating, can help to improve the way you feel. Some of the benefits include enhanced concentration, reducing stress and anxiety and taking control of habits you dislike.
A combination of mindful eating and therapies to help train your mind into a positive way of thinking can leave you feeling revitalised and healthier.
It can be difficult to try and start eating mindfully when you're at work and feel like you have little time. Dr Pablo Vandenabeele, Clinical Directory of Mental Health at Bupa UK offers eight tips for eating mindfully wherever you are.
How to eat mindfully
1. Chew your food slowly. Not only will this help your digestion, you feel more satisfied with your meal. Much of the time we eat past the point of fullness because we aren’t recognising when we’ve had enough. That’s why we can sometimes feel too full, bloated and uncomfortable after meals.
2. Get to know your food. Knowing exactly what’s in your food and where it comes from helps you engage with what you’re eating. Try making yourself some food at home to bring to work; you’ll notice the difference.
3. Take notice of tastes, textures and smells. Whatever you’re eating, consciously engage with the texture of it in your mouth, the smells, colour and presentation of it.
4. Give your food your full attention. Try eating without reading or looking at a screen.
5. Limit temptation. Pre-portion your food so you’re not tempted to eat too much. When you’re busy and you need to eat on the go or meet a deadline, it can be tempting to skip a meal or grab a convenient snack. But rather than let those moments catch you out – have foods to hand that are healthy and pre-portioned.
6. Notice when you are feeling full. Being mindful when eating focuses your attention so you can register when you’ve eaten enough and are satisfied. Slowing down and learning to recognise when you’re full can help stop weight gain, indigestion and a bloated, sluggish feeling.
7. Are you really hungry? Really think about it – if you’re unsure, try waiting 20 minutes. Then ask yourself again to see if you’re really and truly hungry. Feel a snack attack coming on? Think about when you last ate something. If it was less than three hours ago, it might not really be hunger. Maybe you just need a break to stretch your legs, or get a drink of water instead.
8. Take the time. This is really important: make time for your meals. They are essential to your health and wellbeing and making time for regualr meals will keep your mind and body fuelled throughout the day.