Sunday, April 14, 2024

Mindful eating: why every bite should have thought

We often hear about mindful eating as a way to shape our thoughts and habits surrounding food.

On a theoretical level, mindful eating focuses on the sensual awareness of food and encourages people to adopt an approach which creates a powerful behavioural change.

What it’s not

Don’t confuse mindful eating with a diet.

A diet tells people what to eat, how much to eat, when to eat and is something which implies a temporary change. Mindful eating is not a diet and isn’t related to changing what you eat, however adopting the process very well may change what you eat.

People usually partake in a diet to lose weight and measure their calories, along with macronutrients which includes protein, fats and carbohydrates. The downfall of a diet is after altering calories and macros for a certain duration, people lose weight and after achieving their goals they return back to their previous lifestyle habits.

What is the end result? People regain their lost weight and are back to square one.

The process of mindful eating

Everyone deals with cravings or enjoys their favourite food on the odd occasion. But what if you could increase the satisfaction duration to create a more contented version of yourself? According to the National Library of Medicine, mindful eating is intended to help individuals savour the moment which should reduce the frequency of future cravings.

Mindful eating is a habit which takes time to build upon, so it’s best to start with setting your phone or any distractions aside. At first it will feel over the top or grandiose, but start with picking up your food.

Scent plays a large role in our desire for food, so begin by inhaling the smell and appreciate it. At the same time, feel the weight of what you’re holding and recognise the nutrients it will provide you with.

Look at the shape, colour and bumps of the food before placing it in your mouth. Once you place your food in your mouth, don’t chew just yet and rather focus on the taste and texture of it. This is only momentary and might be difficult at first, but it’s all about building a habit which will develop greater satisfaction and a positive relationship with food.

Chew slowly and actively remind yourself of what you’re looking for.

Taste, texture and scent.

At first, when people practice this structure of mindful eating they find quicker satisfaction with what they’re eating. Eventually, people get to the point where the quicker rate of satisfaction leads to them not needing to finish off whatever junk food they set out to eat.

Why should someone practice mindful eating?

Lack of satisfaction is what leads to cravings and once this concept is understood, the logical answer our brain tells us is to satisfy the food cravings.

How often do people find themselves opening a bag of chips and eating one after the other? Once finished, are you satisfied or wanting more? Is your stomach full at a comfortable level or is it stuffed? Food which is considered unhealthy is moreish in nature – leaving someone wanting more – hence why the process of mindful eating can change an individual’s approach to eating.

Mindful eating is likely to reduce your cravings and increase your appreciation for what’s being eaten.

Challenges to expect

You won’t be a master of mindful eating straight away and some challenges are to be expected.

Just like all habits, mindful eating will also take time to adopt but this one will be more difficult. Why? Because eating is an integral act which we have been doing for our whole life and to change something which has been developed over a lifetime is difficult.

It’s common to give it a valiant effort but only last for a minute or so in the beginning. This is because of mental exhaustion, which happens due to the level of thinking applied when eating and the feeling of it being unnatural at first.

Other than mental exhaustion, you’re also likely to forget to do it. People are faced with thousands of tasks and distractions on a daily basis, so the chances of nailing it always isn’t high.

While there are many challenges associated with mindful eating, making a start is the most important step.

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