What is Mindful Eating And Why Is It Important
Mindful eating vs mindless eating
When you first start to get on board with mindful eating, it’s super likely that you’ll have been eating mindlessly until now.
Not sure if this applies to you or not? Let’s talk a little bit about the differences between eating mindfully and eating mindlessly.
With mindless eating, your focus isn’t solely on your food and the overall eating experience. You might be eating while catching up with episodes of your favorite shows or scrolling on your smartphone. Or maybe you’re eating while you’re walking or chatting on the phone and snacking at the same time. The common factor in all of these scenarios? You’re eating quickly and probably eating a lot more than you realize in a pretty short time frame. If you’re used to eating on the go and multi-tasking, there’s a fair chance that you’re used to eating in a more mindless fashion.
Mindful eating is a whole different ball game. It’s about taking your time while you eat, engaging your senses with every mouthful and enjoying what you’re eating. Experts agree that it takes around 20 minutes for the brain to register that you’re full and mindful eating helps you to eat in line with this. When you’re eating mindlessly, you can easily eat a whole heap of calories in that time frame before your brain can catch up with your actual level of satiety.
It can be a challenge to shift from mindless to mindful eating but there are tons of benefits too!
How to be mindful when you’re preparing food
You take your mindful eating approach a lot further by using your food prep and cooking time as another opportunity to engage your senses and build a super strong appreciation for what you’ll be eating.
Bringing your senses to the party is a huge part of this. You’ll want to immerse yourself in the visual elements of your food and the delicious smells that fill the room as it’s cooking. Don’t forget about how food feels as you touch it and how the texture may change as it’s chopped or peeled too. Even sounds can be brought into the equation … think about things like the sizzle of onions or garlic in a pan or the fizz of water as it begins to boil. Any opportunity to bring all of your senses into play.
Before you even begin to prep and cook your food, it can be super helpful to set an intention about why you’re preparing the food and check in with your state of mind. How are you feeling as you get ready to engage in mindful cooking?
Think about the ingredients you’re using and how they made it into your kitchen. Where did they come from? What was involved in their journey to get to you? How many people were involved in this?
Cut all outside distractions as you work. That means no television or radio on in the background and no YouTube videos or podcasts. This allows you to give your full attention to being mindful and fully present in the moment.
Why chewing your food well is super important for mindful eating
Slowing down your eating is a super important part of mindful eating and one of the easiest ways to do it involves chewing your food thoroughly.
It’s often recommended that you chew each mouthful up to 25 times (sometimes more!). This can be super daunting if you’re used to swallowing your food after just one or two chews but it can be massively important for both digestion and satiety.
Let’s talk a bit more about the role chewing well plays in both:
It’s often said that digestion starts in your mouth, not your stomach. This is because chewing your food really well breaks it down into small pieces that are much easier for your body to digest. It also makes it a lot simpler for nutrients to be extracted from the food. If you tend to struggle with digestive issues, chewing your food well could help with this.
Chewing your food well also helps you to feel fuller. A lot of this is due to the fact that it forces you to eat at a slower pace. Eating quickly is strongly linked to overeating, whereas eating at a more leisurely pace gives you more opportunity to recognize when you’re full. The end result? You’ll probably eat less food.
According to the results of a study involving 30 women, eating at a slower pace meant that they ate less food and felt significantly fuller.
And in another study, chewing thoroughly reduced intake of sweet snacks such as candy.
Do you eat mindfully?
Share with me in the comment section below.
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