Mindful eating, what are the benefits?
When was the last time you truly gave your undivided attention to what you are eating, ate mindfully? The term mindful eating is thrown around a lot, but what does it really mean? One definition says, mindful eating encourages us to gain awareness of our eating experience.
Why eat mindfully?
Mindful eating helps us savour the moment, the food and the full eating experience. For many it is a strategy to help break the cycle of a constant focus on dieting, food rules and restrictions. It can help improve a person’s relationship with food and develop a better understanding of what foods nourish us and keep us healthy. It also encourages a deeper understanding and appreciation of every meal. Let’s not forget the enjoyment eating slowly, without distraction can bring. Tasting the food fully, recognising the textures and joy that food brings without guilt often associated with eating certain foods.
It is important for our health to nourish ourselves with a large range of foods from different food groups; fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, dairy, meat, fish and legumes.
Diets don’t work!
Restrictive fad style diets, particularly those that focus on weight loss are a continuous cycle of deprivation, cravings, feeling guilty and starting the cycle all over again. This could go on for many miserable years. Mindful eating focuses more on the process of eating rather than the outcomes e.g. weight loss.
When a food (or food groups,) is banned do you focus on it more? The food has power over you. Drop the rules and feel the freedom.
Think about how foods make you feel, which meals leave you feeling energised? How good does a fresh cherry at the start of the season, a perfectly ripe strawberry, or a freshly baked roast duck taste? These foods are all nourishing and delicious.
How to eat mindfully
When eating mindfully you choose what to eat and how much. Some days you are more hungry and other days less. Today you feel like certain foods and other days not. A ‘diet’ or plan is telling how much, what and often when to eat. It is important to be in tune with your own body’s needs. It is not coincidental that when someone eats mindfully that they often choose to eat less and choose foods that are healthy for them.
When you next make and eat your delicious smoked duck rice paper rolls or stir fry Peking duck with noodles follow this mindful eating experience. I can just about guarantee the food will taste even better!
- Set your meal down in front of you.
- Look at the food like you haven’t seen it before, it is all new. Take a few deep breaths and relax.
- Look at the food some more, all the different components that make up the meal. Smell the lovely aromas.
- Place a small amount in your mouth.
- Notice what you are feeling, what is happening in your mouth. Do you salivate?
- Now notice the texture and flavours in your mouth.
- Is it dry, juicy, sweet, salty, bitter or sour?
- Notice what each new bite brings
- After swallowing, close your eyes for a few moments to take in the whole experience.
If you would like further dietary advice An Accredited Practising Dietitian is a trained health professional to help answer questions and develop dietary strategies that suit you.