Posted on: 7 April, 2020

The Importance of Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is not something that comes naturally in today’s world. When we’re feeling hungry, the urge to quickly eat the first thing you see can be overwhelming. Often, our natural instinct to eat straight away takes over our rational, conscious thoughts. And before we know it, we’ve filled our body with convenience food, without taking so much as a second to think about it.

Mindful eating is a practice that’s intended to prompt us to make healthy eating choices. It also helps us stick with smaller portion sizes, and appreciate the food we’re eating even more.

By slowing down your eating and paying more attention to the flavours, you’ll notice that you feel more satisfied after your meal.

Savour the flavour

It’s a pleasure to be collaborating with Jo Cook, a clinical hypnotherapist from Bright Butterfly. With over 20 years’ experience in various human resources roles, Jo is well equipped to deal with such challenges.

And with that, in her video ‘Savour the Flavour’, Jo offers some invaluable advice about how we can adopt healthier eating habits:

“Mindfulness is really about getting in the moment of whatever it is you’re doing. So, you’re not thinking about the hundreds of jobs you’ve got to do; rather, you’re taking the opportunity to stop and focus on the food that you eat, and really savour the taste.
“So, what that enables the body to do, physiologically, is to produce more saliva which will help with digesting the food, and it also helps with producing more alkaline in the body – which is good for us, as opposed to more acid.”

Jo recommends practising mindful eating with the following exercise:

  1. Pick up a cranberry or raisin (as Jo does in her video) – or, you can grab any type of food you like
  2. Take a minute to examine it closely, noticing the colours and textures. Tune in to the present moment
  3. Bring the item of food closer to your face, and notice how it smells and how it feels
  4. As you begin to smell the food, notice saliva forming in your mouth, and your taste buds starting to fire
  5. Taste the food ever so slightly, before proceeding to put it in your mouth
  6. Before you bite into it, notice when your senses start to pick up the flavours and textures
  7. Then, bite into the food and pay attention to the burst of flavours
  8. Before you take the next raisin, notice the sensations of the food continuing through your digestive system.

Jo proceeds to tell us about the benefits of eating mindfully:

“One of the biggest benefits of eating mindfully is that we are eating in a more relaxed way. The opposite of that would be eating in a very rushed way, which for the body, can also stimulate an anxious feeling. So, if you’re rushing your food, you’re telling your body that you’re under pressure.

Physiologically, your body starts to produce more adrenaline rather than digestive juices. And that’s where we can experience the feeling of bloat or heartburn after eating.”

When you start eating more slowly, your body will start receiving the message that you’re full – and it will get that more quickly. So, you’ll stop eating sooner, and you can get those smaller portions in.

Your mind will also recognise that you’ve eaten well – and so, rather than experiencing feelings of hunger an hour or two later, you’ll have enjoyed sufficient time with the flavours by being present.

Here are 5 easy ways you can start to eat more mindfully, according to Bodyline Clinic:

1. Sit at the table

In modern day living, it can be all too tempting to sit down with your meal in front of the television. Not only does this encourage a bad posture, but it takes your attention away from the food you’re eating. And more than likely, you’ll eat more than you need to.

To resolve this, simply revert back to the traditional way that families eat together. Take a seat at your dining table with your food, and limit any distractions – with the exception of catching up with your family, of course!

2. Slow down

By eating more slowly, you’ll start to notice the textures and flavours of your food more intensely – allowing you to savour each mouthful.

3. Switch off the TV
A core part of mindful eating is being able to focus on what you’re doing. Turning off the TV is one of the easiest, and most effective ways you can ensure that you’re giving your food the attention it deserves.

4. Take breaks
Whilst you’re chewing, place your knife and fork back down on the table. This way, rather than thinking about your next bite, you’ll be placing all of your attention on the food you’re digesting, noticing how it tastes.

5. Stop when you’re full
Eating more slowly will give your body more time to register when it’s full. So, ultimately, you’ll eat less. And by being sure to stop eating when this feeling starts to surface, you’ll avoid feelings of bloat throughout the day.

So, eating mindfully is something we can all practise, with a little time and conscious effort. And, by doing so, we’re likely to see positive changes in our physical and mental health. For more top tips on healthy eating, take a look at our previous food-related articles.

A huge thank you to Bodyline Clinic for collaborating with us on this article.

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