What is Mindful Eating?
The practice of mindful eating is based on the Buddhist concept of Mindfulness. It’s a form of meditation that helps you recognise and cope with emotions and physical sensations around food. Mindfulness has been shown to support and improve depression, anxiety and food related disorders. It encourages you to pay attention while you are eating – to cravings and physical cues when eating such as are you actually hungry or emotionally hungry?
What is involved in Mindful Eating?
Eating slowly and without distraction
Listening to physical hunger cues and eating only until you no longer have hunger
Distinguishing between actual hunger and non hunger triggers for eating
Engaging your senses by noticing colours, smells, sounds, textures and tastes
Learning to cope with guilt and anxiety about food
Noticing the effects food has on your feelings and sense of wellbeing
Appreciating your food
To be conscious of the food you are eating and to make healthier choices
Why should I try Mindful Eating?
We live in a fast paced society with an abundance of food choices. We no longer have to hunt for our food, with high sugar, low nutrient foods now readily available.
We are distracted from the actual act of eating – our attention is focused on TV, computers and phones
Eating has become a mindless act often done quickly – it takes the brain 20 minutes to register that the stomach is full – if food is consumed too quickly the fullness signal might not arrive until you’ve eaten too much.
Eating mindfully – means you slow down and attention is focused and you eat consciously and intentionally
Mindful eating helps to recognise physical hunger and fullness cues so you can eat when you are physically hungry and not emotionally hungry – highlighting triggers that make you want to eat even when you are not hungry and do not need to eat
Mindful Eating, Chewing and Digestion
Chewing – digestion starts in the mouth. Aim for 10x chews per mouthful.
Physically breaks down large food particles into small particles that are easily absorbed – more nutrients are digested and absorbed by intestines
Activates Saliva production that starts to digest carbohydrates
Prevents large undigested food particles reaching the large intestine – bacteria can act on these leading to gas, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation
Practicing Mindful Eating – Simple ways to get started
Eat slowly and do not rush your meals
Chew thoroughly – place your knife and fork down in between mouthfuls can help slow you down
Eliminate distractions – turn off the TV and the phone
Eat in silence
Focus on how the food makes you feel
Stop eating when you no longer have hunger
Wait 20 minutes for seconds or dessert
Ask yourself, why are you eating? Are you actually hungry? Do you need this food?