The act of eating can be meditative too! Mindful eating is derived from the Buddhist ideology of mindfulness which involves ‘being fully aware of what is happening within and around you at the moment’. We realize that basic necessities of humans is food, shelter and clothing : food features as the first basic need. But gradually, from being an essential act for survival , eating has just been rendered as a daily chore for some while others misuse it by making it an overly fancy affair.

Mindful eating entails eating slowly savoring each bite and being fully conscious about the colour, texture, smell and taste of the food.  It creates a nexus between the mind and the body which ensures that food actually nourishes your body the way it is supposed to. Limited but strong evidence exists to show that mindful eating can be a tool for weight management as the slower, more thoughtful way of eating increases inclination to choose healthy and stay away from the processed and unhealthy foods.

How it works ?

When you start eating, chemicals from the brain send signals to the body regarding the effect of the food. Digestion involves a complex series of hormonal signals between the gut (stomach ) and the nervous system (brain). The signal for satiety (feeling of fullness) comes about 20 minutes after commencing meals. So if we eat rapidly, by the time the signal is received we have eaten less or more than required. However, if we eat slowly then we have a better chance to respond to the signal with either continuing the meal or terminating it.

Here a few steps to ensure mindful eating

  • Always sit down to eat
  • Chew each bite 25 times https://blog.ekincare.com/2016/06/17/chew-it-before-you-move-it-ekincare/
  • Complete the morsel in the mouth before preparing the next one
  • Take 20 minutes to complete the meal
  • Put the spoon down between bites
  • Sit in a clean and calm environment
  • Eat from a clean plate and not directly out of containers
  • Eat with a companion or family members and share the meal
  • Know where your food comes from
  • Appreciate that somebody has toiled to bring that food to your table. Respect the extensive use of human and environmental resources that are used in growing food.
  • Avoid any kind of distractions while eating such as the newspaper, phone or TV but a friendly conversation is always welcome.

Benefits of Mindful eating

  1. We listen to body signals for eating and eat only when physiological hunger arises
  2. We learn to stop eating when our body seems full and resist temptation to gobble up everything
  3. We start appreciating textures, colours and unique flavours of food and learn to be grateful for wonderful gifts of nature
  4. Sometimes, through mindful eating we may learn that we can stop halfway through a cupcake or creamy latte as we do not need more sugar or simply dont like the taste
  5. Gradually with the practice of mindful eating one can achieve weight loss
  6. Mindful eating can help to understand living in the present. The consciousness of each bite of food can help increase self awareness
  7. With practice, mindful eaters can avoid the urge to binge at parties or restaurants as they understand hunger cues
  8. Mindful eating can help overcome emotional eating as we may tend to not binge while being depressed or stressed.

Often people think that eating healthy means compromising on the taste. But actually, food tastes good when it is eaten with the consciousness of its benefits for our body and mind. Eating should be a pleasurable experience at all times. Mindful eating may take a lot of practice, it’s like a form of meditation.  

In the real world, we lead busy lives with less time to focus on each task but this basic necessity of life surely deserves attention and will take away less than 90 minutes of the 1440 minutes of the day available to you.

References:

https://zenhabits.net/what-is-mindful-eating/

https://www.mindful.org/6-ways-practice-mindful-eating/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/mindful-eating-may-help-with-weight-loss

http://blog.primohealthcoach.com/bid/75153/Eat-Drink-And-Be-Mindful

Written by drpoojachhawcharia

Dr Pooja Chhawcharia is the Senior Nutritionist at eKincare with over 7 years of experience in Nutrition education, diet counseling and research. She is a Registered Dietician with the Indian Dietetic Association and Certified Diabetes Educator recognized by the International Diabetes federation . She is also interested in ancillary sciences such as Yoga and Naturopathy.

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