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Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is when you learn to pay attention to what you’re eating, rather than eating mindlessly. You learn to pay attention to:

  • Why you feel like eating – what emotions or needs are triggering the eating?
  • What you’re eating – does it taste good, is it healthy?
  • Where your food came from – how did it get on your plate?
  • The colour, smell, taste and texture of the food you’re eating
  • How it makes you feel as you taste it, and digest it throughout the day
  • Your emotions and energy during and after eating
  • How full you feel before, during and after eating

When you eat too quickly or eat while distracted, you activate your stress response (fight/flight sympathetic part of your nervous system) and suppress your de-stress response (rest/digest parasympathetic part of your nervous system). This burdens your digestive tract by slowing digestion and inhibiting the breakdown and absorption of those food molecules in your gut. This causes gas accumulation, inflammation and increased permeability of your gut wall lining – in this instance some tiny food molecules pass to your blood stream rather than being confined in your digestive tract – a common problem with wide reaching side effects known as Leaky Gut syndrome. To eat mindfully, you don’t have to spend 5 minutes contemplating each grain of rice you eat in some kind of profoundly deep meditation, but it does mean taking things a little slower and more deliberately.

How can you Eat Mindfully?

  1. When eating, don’t try to multitask – engaging with others is great, but don’t do your work, watch TV, check your phone or read a book at the same time. You’ll become so involved in your other activities that your meal will vanish before you know it, and you’ve missed the opportunity to enjoy it properly
  2. Don’t try to gobble your food down – take smaller mouthfuls, increase the number of chews per mouthful – 15 to 20 is the ideal amount per bite, put your fork or spoon down while you chew so you can pause for a moment to appreciate your food before putting it in your mouth
  3. Use all your senses – food has more than just taste to it, it also has colour, shape, texture, coolness, heat, crunch and many other aspects to it
  4. Pause to appreciate and be thankful for everyone who made it possible for you to be able to eat your food
  5. Take the time to make tasty food – that way you will want to slow down to enjoy it
  6. Listen to your stomach – it takes a while for your body to tell you that you’ve become satisfied. If you slow down as the meal progresses, there’s a better chance you’ll become aware when your stomach tells you you’ve had enough. As a bonus, this way you’re more likely to save leftovers that you can wrap up and enjoy another time
  7. Enjoy the pause that a meal brings. Our lives can be so busy and rushed that meal times may be one of the few opportunities to take a mental and/or physical break

Benefits of Mindful Eating:

  • You learn to eat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re replete rather than overindulging
  • You learn to really taste your food, and by being more present you can enjoy the eating experience more
  • You start to realise that unhealthy food isn’t as tasty as you thought, nor does it make you feel very good, whereas healthy food is tasty and makes you feel great
  • You learn how food affects your mood and energy throughout the day – which food best fuels you for your daily needs at work, exercise and play
  • You begin to sort through any emotional issues you may have around food and eating
  • You may lose weight if you’re overweight as you learn to have better portion control
  • You put less stress on your gut, which results in better stress management, and therefore better digestion and a healthier gut