With our busy lives, many of us rush through meals, eat on the go, or skip meals altogether.
We get home from work and sit in front of the TV – you reach for a snack and somehow finish a whole bag of chips.
There’s nothing wrong with treats in moderation, but it’s easy to overdo it when you’re not eating mindfully.
What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating means eating in such a way that:
- you minimize distractions
- you’re focused on the meal, and savouring every bite
- meal times are enjoyable and in a relaxed atmosphere
- you eat slowly and chew thoroughly
Why eat mindfully?
- avoid overeating
- improved digestion
- more satisfaction from your meal
- less cravings for “something more” after the meal
Here are our top nutrition tips for mindful eating
1. Make meal times relaxed and enjoyable
Meal times should be enjoyable – a time to relax, connect and recharge.
If they’re stressful for you, think about a way to reduce your stress level around meals.
Maybe this looks like creating boundaries with family, eating alone, or doing some deep breathing before heading to the table.
2. Minimize distractions
Avoid eating while watching TV, driving or scrolling your phone.
When you eat while distracted, your brain doesn’t get the signals that you’re full, so you’re more likely to overeat.
You also don’t get as much pleasure and satisfaction from your food, which leaves you wanting more and craving more food after you’re done.
When distracted we tend to rush and don’t tend to chew as thoroughly which could cause digestive symptoms such as bloating and heartburn.
3. Savour every bite
Using all four senses notice the taste, texture and smell of your food.
Does it bring back any fond memories?
Savouring each bite allows you to feel more pleasure and satisfaction from your meal, so you’re less likely to overeat and have less cravings.
4. Slow down
Take your time and enjoy your meal!
Take at least 15 minutes to eat, and chew every bite thoroughly.
It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the signal that you’re full. If you eat your whole meal before that signal reaches your brain you’re more likely to overeat.
5. Enlist a family member to help
If you feel you can’t control yourself around certain foods it’s often best not to keep it in your home, and instead, go out and enjoy a portion once in a while.
If you controlling portions & cravings is a challenge, and you do have treats at home, enlist a family member to help – have them stash the treats somewhere out of sight and ration them out in small portions.
6. Get your sleep
Sleep deprivation directly affects appetite – your body sees calories as energy, and the quickest form of energy is carbohydrates – typically comfort foods.
When you get adequate, quality sleep your appetite is regulated, your mood and energy is balanced, and it’s much easier to reach for healthy options, or enjoy indulgences in moderation.
If you struggle with sleep, reach out for support – our practitioners are experienced with supporting clients in optimizing sleep.
7. Watch less TV
After a long day many of us like to watch TV to unwind – no problem with that.
But eating in front of the TV can be a problem.
Because you’re distracted by watching TV, it’s easy to mindlessly eat; eat a larger portion than you would have or to crave “something more” after a meal.
This happens because when you’re not fully paying attention to what you’re eating, your brain doesn’t fully register pleasure from your food you’re less likely to be satisfied with what you had.
8. Mental health support
When we aren’t feeling ourselves it’s easy to turn to comfort foods for a pick me up.
Mental health issues can stem from a number of physical, social/interpersonal or spiritual reasons.
For this reason, it’s best to take a whole person approach to optimizing mental wellness.
Support your mental health by reaching out to loved ones and asking for help or booking a session with a counsellor.
Spending time in nature, even a short gentle walk, has been clinically proven to boost one’s mood.
Your digestive health also directly impacts your mental wellness.