In today’s fast-paced, technology-run society we are slammed with busy schedules and long work or school hours. You might have so much to do and your planner might be booked with a list full of errands and things to get done throughout the day that you forget whether you’ve eaten lunch or not. When we’re so busy we sometimes forget to eat or we might not even have the time to enjoy our meal when we get the chance to. Are we getting enough of the nutrients, vitamins, carbohydrates, fats, and other necessities that our body needs in order to stay happy and healthy? Some of us scarf down our food so fast that we’re still hungry once we’ve finished. This is because we do not give our brain enough time to process the fact that we have eaten and are then left with the lingering sensation of hunger because our brain still thinks we are hungry. Mindful eating is a practice of meditation and consciousness of being mindful, a Buddhist concept, that helps us recognize what we eat, when we eat, why we eat, and appreciate the food that we eat. By practicing mindful eating, we can change our eating habits and become more consciously aware of the things that we eat and put into our bodies and whether we are getting the proper nutrients from how we are eating.
Our HFR team did the research and have compiled a few of the many benefits to mindful eating. Read more below!
Reduce stress and anxiety
When you practice mindful eating, you can become more aware of your emotions when you eat. For instance, are you eating because you are stressed from work or anxious about an upcoming test? By taking your time to eat and focusing on your feelings while doing so, you are able to channel the root of your emotions and learn how to cope with your feelings. A program study on Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) developed by Jon-Kabat Zinn and colleagues demonstrated results in significant reductions in anxiety and depressive symptoms in patients suffering from general anxiety disorder (GAD) proving that practicing mindfulness can initially help alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety.
Can help you manage your emotions
Do you find yourself overeating or not eating at all because of overwhelming emotions? Maybe something happened and made you feel upset or sad so you decided to go to the store and splurge on junk food. Practicing mindful eating can help better manage your emotions by taking your time to chew your food and paying attention to the scent, taste, and texture. When you’re more aware of the food you intake, you also become more in tune with how you’re feeling. Are you feeling sad? Happy? Mad? Keep this in mind the next time you eat.
Reduce overeating and binge eating
There are many people who overeat or binge eat whether from stress or having lazy days. Obesity is a very important epidemic in today’s society. Conscious eating and meditation can help reduce the bad habits related to overeating through slowly chewing your food and taking time to eat for at least 20 minutes. By doing so you give your brain enough time to process that you have eaten and gives your body enough time to properly digest. Research on mindfulness meditation has been reviewed as potential evidence in treating weight loss, stress, and behavior modification related to binge-eating.
Cope with chronic eating problems
Some people suffer from chronic eating problems such as anorexia and bulimia. Those who suffer from bulimia are known to eat excessively and then purge their food while people who suffer from anorexia tend to restrict the food that they intake. Being aware of how you eat and what you eat can help people who suffer from chronic eating problems through practicing the steps of taking time to focus on what you eat such as carbs, protein, vitamins, and other nutrients your body needs. By doing so you will become more accustomed to relaxing your mind and body so that you will not be prone to suffer from eating problems such as anorexia and bulimia. A case study has been done that practices the application of mindful eating to help a 19-year old girl demonstrates an overall decline in restriction of food.
Aids Weight Loss
When you practice fixing your old eating habits through the practice of slow and conscious eating, thoroughly chewing your food 20-40 times each mouthful, and taking note of its’ taste and texture, you are also practicing the element of self-control. This control helps with reducing fat over time and thus losing weight in the process.
Helps cue your body
When you practice conscious eating, you are also sending your body the cues it needs to tell you when you should start eating and when you should stop eating. Once your body recognizes the cues, it will let you know when it is time for you to start eating or when it is time for you to stop. This can help prevent overeating or forgetting to eat when you are supposed to.
Helps with food portions
Practicing mindful eating can help you become more conscious of how much food you are putting into your body and help you become more aware of the portions of food as well. This helps reduce overeating. When you become aware of your food portions, you can make sure that you are getting all of the needed protein, carbohydrates, and other substances that your body needs in order to stay healthy. You might also want to check out HFR’s article on Top 10 Tips for Portion Control!
When you are taking time to enjoy and thoroughly eat your food, you are also practicing your focus as well. This can help you eliminate outside distractions in your everyday life and help you increase your level of concentration and focus on other things.
Next time you have lunch, try practicing mindful eating and going through the steps. You might find it beneficial to your health in the long run!
by Erica Dinh