Our busy lives mean we are increasingly rushing through meals, eating on the go, eating in front of the TV or checking our phones. But more people are now starting to recognise the impact this is having on our health and wellbeing.
Growing research suggests that distraction while eating not only prevents us from fully enjoying the food we are eating but is linked to overeating, stress and increased anxiety.
We are also eating fewer meals than ever before at a table or with our family together. When was the last time you had breakfast, lunch or and evening meal together without the smartphones?
How often do you find yourself grabbing something to eat on the go or feeling stuffed after a meal? I remember when I had my children that eating quickly was a habit you built up out of necessity and finishing off their left over toddler meals was just too tempting!
Have you ever craved a bar of chocolate, only to demolish it without it even touching the sides? Or eaten a huge plate of food without even being aware of the real taste of it and wonder why you feel stuffed after?
We know that we don’t just eat to satisfy our hunger either. We eat when we are bored, stressed, unhappy, happy, angry … we all have emotional eating triggers. For some people, it can be just seeing food on TV or passing a cake shop that triggers the urge to eat.
These are all habits we have developed which are not good for our health and wellbeing.
So how can mindful eating help?
Mindful eating is about getting close and personal with our food and paying attention to what is actually happening in our bodies and minds when we eat and really enjoy the experience of eating. It is not a diet and it is not about limiting food choices. Mindful eating helps us to be in charge of our choices and being ok with it.
SO HERE ARE SOME STEPS TO START EATING MINDFULLY. TRY IT FOR ONE MEAL ON YOUR OWN, TO BEGIN WITH AND SEE HOW YOU GET ON.
- Sit at a table and minimise any distractions – switch off mobile devices, turn off TV/music
- Use all your senses – before you take your first bite notice the colours, smells, textures of the food. Choose where you are going to take your first mouthful from on the plate
- Chew slowly and notice all the sensations in your mouth and the flavours – put your knife and fork down until you have swallowed each mouthful
- Half way through the meal pause and check in with how hungry or full you are feeling – notice if the enjoyment of the food has changed from the first few mouthfuls
- End your meal by noticing how full you are feeling and what other emotions are present
Mindful eating brings our awareness to the real taste of food and surprisingly results show that overtime the food we crave starts to lose its appeal and we are drawn towards more nutritious choices. We become more aware of when we are eating for hunger and when we are eating for “emotional” needs.
By tuning into your thoughts and sensations in your body you can make a choice what to eat, when to eat and when to do something else that will meet the emotional need.
Food for thought hey?……
Evelyn Kaluza | Wellbeing Coach