How Mindful Eating Could Lead To Mindful A Life

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A steadily growing amount of research has found that a slower, more thoughtful approach to eating is correlated with helping weight problems and may even steer certain people way from processed food and other not-so-healthy options.

This research has led to an alternative approach to dieting known as ‘mindful eating’. It is based on the Buddhist concept of mindfulness, which is all about being fully aware of one’s surroundings and one’s self at the moment in time. Mindfulness itself has many benefits such as relieving stress and alleviating problems including chronic gastrointestinal difficulties and high blood pressure.

Applied to eating, the act of mindfulness includes noticing the flavours, smells, textures, and colours of the food being consumed; learning to cope with the feelings of anxiety and guilt related to food; and getting rid of any and all distractions such as the television or reading. Many elements of mindful eating reflect to the ideals put forth by 20

 

th century food faddist Horace Fletcher. He believed that chewing food thoroughly would solve various kinds of different health problems.

Digestion involves a complex series of multiple signals between the gut and the nervous system. It appears that it takes approximately 20 minutes for the brain to register (satiety) fullness. Therefore, if food were consumed too quickly, a person might only register the fact that they are indeed full long after they continue to eat. This means that satiety might occur after overeating rather than putting an end to it when someone decides to eat too fast. Additionally, there is also reason to believe that eating while distracted by activities such as typing or driving may slow down or stop digestion temporarily. Not digesting well may then lead to the missing out of the full nutritive value of some food consumed.

Some mindfulness techniques have even been used to help cancer patients with their diets in a number of different ways; for example, survivors of head and neck cancer have been encouraged to meditate with their food as they make the occasionally difficult transition from a feeding tube back to eating solid food. One such meditation might involve having patients bite into an apple slice, close their eyes, and just focus on the sensory experience of tasting, chewing, and swallowing that piece of fruit.

Several studies have shown that mindful eating strategies may help in the treatment of eating disorders and possibly even help weight loss.

A Simple Guide

  • Set the kitchen timer to 20 minutes, and take that time to eat a normal-sized meal

  • Try eating with the non-dominant hand; if you are a righty, lift the food using your left hand

  • Use chopsticks if it is not something normally used

  • Eat silently, thinking about what it took to produce that meal; from the sun’s rays to the farmer to the grocer to the cook

  • Always and only take small bites before chewing

  • Before opening the fridge or cabinet, ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” Do something else like reading or going for a walk

 

Rose Nguyen