Mindful eating, what is it? First, let us define mindfulness. Mindfulness is an awareness without judgment to your sensations, feelings, thoughts and your environment in the present moment. This seems simply enough right? In truth this practice takes time and patience. In the world that we live in today, we are constantly being bombarded with information and stimuli from our cell phones, TV’s, computers and our busy lives.
Mindless eating has been shown to increase calorie intake, decrease satisfactions and is associated with increased waistlines. Dr. Brian Wansink from Cornell University coined the term mindless eating. This term encompasses the act of eating without great thought and the psychological aspect to our foods choices as well as quantity consumed. The research is fascinating. Things like the size of your plate and cup have a large influence on how much you consume. How many people you are with also affects your consumption levels, even something as simple as how quickly you eat can determine the number of calories you consume.
Combating mindless eating and eating mindfully can be difficult. Here are a few practices to try to incorporate. These are key concepts of mindful eating:
Engage all your senses. Take the time to use all you sense while enjoying a meal. Think about how that foods smells. Does it smell strong like garlic or is it wonderfully subtle? Think about the way your foods looks. Is it beautifully presented or are the colors brilliant? Engage all your senses. Think about the sound your foods make while you eat them (crunch, crackle). How do your foods feel in your mouth? Is it silky and smooth or rough and course? Best of all, how do they taste good? Do you like how the taste?
Be mindful of portion sizes. Using a smaller plate can help with this. Portion out a modest serving. This leads to smaller portion consumption and fewer calories consumes. Most of the time our eyes are larger than our stomachs. Try to start out with a smaller portion of your foods. See how often you really need to go back for a second serving.
Chew your food! This seems obvious, but really try to chew each bite. This is not only better for your digestion but it will give you time to taste your foods. Once you swallow your food that taste is gone.
Eat slowly. This will require some training. Try placing your fork or spoon down in-between bites. This will slow the eating process down and allow your body the time it needs to trigger your “I’m full and satisfied” response.
Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals can backfire. This will leave you feeling very hungry when your next meals comes around and you will likely be unable to eat mindfully.
Still interested in learning more about mindful eating? Check out these resources:
Cornell University Mindless eating resources: http://www.foodpsychology.cornell.edu/index.html