Mindful eating (also known as intuitive eating) is the practice of eating while giving attention to how food impacts your thoughts and sensations. In today’s society, it’s not uncommon for people to eat in their cars, on the go, at their desks, or in front of the TV, rather than sit down to a proper meal with family, friends and work colleagues. This mindless and disconnected way of consuming food causes us to eat quickly and mindlessly, which can lead to digestive issues, poor food choices as well as overeating and weight gain.
Research has proven that practicing mindful eating helps manage food intake, but its benefits go far beyond weight loss. Here are five benefits of mindful eating:
1. HELPS DIGESTION
To truly be more mindful about food and your relationship with it, it’s important to understand that the process doesn’t end when you’ve finished eating. Being mindful means being aware of the digestion process and how you can make it easier on your body. For instance, try taking your time at each meal to eat slowly and chew thoroughly, which not only breaks down food to make it more easily digestible but also stimulates important enzymes that aid the digestion process as well.
2. ENCOURAGES HEALTHIER CHOICES
The more conscious you are of what you’re eating, and in turn how that food makes you ‘feel’, the less likely you are to choose foods that don’t serve your body in a positive way. Rather than begrudgingly choosing a leafy green salad because that’s what your diet dictates, mindful eating will help you make these choices naturally and intuitively.
One way to become more mindful about food choices is to ask yourself the following questions before and after meals:
- How does my body feel before and after I eat? i.e. low energy, more energy, bloating etc
- What do I feel about this food? i.e. joy, pleasure, guilt, disappointment etc
Once you determine how certain foods make you feel, you’ll intrinsically reach for those foods that are associated with more positive experiences.
3. CREATES A REST & BREAK IN YOUR DAY
When we see eating as an experience rather than a task, we can create breaks throughout the day that will help us unwind and rest. When you eat mindfully you’re pausing, slowing down and being blissfully present. This gives you a much-needed gap in the busyness of daily life.
4. REDUCES RISK OF EMOTIONAL EATING
A lot of the time we crave food to “fix” an emotional need or void in our life. But when you change the way you see and think about food through mindfulness, you no longer view it as a quick fix. Instead, you find other ways to be fulfilled rather than satisfying feelings of sadness, anger, loneliness etc with food.
5. IMPROVES GRATITUDE
A key to eating mindfully is to think about how much went into creating the food on your plate such as the sun, moon, rain, insects, and all the people involved along the entire chain. It’s amazing and a miracle if you think about it. This creates a huge sense of gratitude and appreciation for mother earth – which results in a greater appreciation.