We live in a time where everybody is in a hurry to do everything, but it’s really important to be present when you’re eating your meals – something referred to as Mindful Eating.
What is “Mindful Eating”? It’s the process of paying attention to what you’re putting into your body – and it’s actually a great way to stay in shape, lose weight, enjoy your meal and eat much less food. The idea behind mindful eating is to slow down… something we all could use in this busy culture! Why not let your meal time be a part of your efforts to relax and enjoy life more?
Take Time to Really Enjoy Your Food!
You want to take about twenty minutes to enjoy your meal. Why twenty minutes? Because it has been shown through various studies that it takes about twenty minutes from the time you start eating for the message to get from your stomach to the brain – stimulating your satiety center and creating the sense of satisfaction that you have now met your requirement or desire for food.
So, what happens when you hurry? You might end up eating quite a bit of food in a short amount of time. You can eat a lot of food in five to seven minutes or less and your brain hasn’t even sensed the fact that you’ve started eating! The result is that you don’t really feel satisfied and in a short amount of time, you want to eat again.
How often have you had that sinking feeling in your gut twenty to thirty minutes later that you’ve eaten far too much and now need a nap? That’s because your brain is just catching up to your mouth, and before you could stop yourself, your stomach now has all this work to do breaking down an excess amount of food! This takes a lot of effort for your body, so now you might find yourself feeling over-stuffed and lethargic because all the blood is now rushing to your midsection to handle the increased digestion workload. Even worse, if your activity level doesn’t match your need for the excess food you’ve just consumed – it has to store all that excess energy (calories) somewhere! Your body now gets to work storing all that energy for later into something we all want to reduce – the fat you find around your midsection and other undesirable areas.
Instead, Shift Your Eating Habits to Focus on Appreciation
When you eat mindfully, by contrast, you can really start to focus on the wonderful taste of your food, the textures you enjoy and the color, aroma and presentation of the meal. When you take a bite, you want to really sink your teeth into it and pay attention to the taste you’re experiencing – you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the richness of the food you’d miss if you’re just rushing through. You know, your taste buds are actually in your mouth, but the way many of us eat you’d think they were in our stomach! You end up just eating a lot, distending yourself and not really feeling satisfied.
The trick to eating smaller portions without having to pay attention to portion control is mindful eating. So, what are the steps involved? As stated at the beginning, it starts with…
1.) Take at Least 20 Minutes to Enjoy Your Meal
If you wish, you can drink a glass of water before your meal – this can prevent overeating and prime your stomach for an effective digestion. Take a look at the clock and then chew slowly, picking up on all the nuances of flavor and texture. Practice putting your fork down between bites and take sips of water in between, giving yourself time to appreciate all the richness of your food’s flavor – the joy is in the spices and seasonings you’ve missed all this time!
When you start paying attention to eating mindfully, you can really start to enjoy things like all the various ingredients that go into things like salad dressing! You will be pleasantly surprised by the depth of flavor that you don’t really have the time to notice when you’re rushing.
2.) Make it About More than Just Eating!
Take some time to enjoy your environment, your family, your friends and the time you have to enjoy your meal! Make conversation and draw it out – enjoy the space you’re in and the company you’re sharing your meal with. If you’re eating alone, maybe pick out a piece of artwork on the wall or the design of the kitchen or restaurant where you might be sitting. You can discuss all the flavors you’re experiencing with your family and friends – and take time to appreciate the chef and the thought that went into preparing it! You’ll find the time passing while balancing out the rate at which you consume your meal. In about 15-20 minutes, you can…
3.) Take Notice of How You’re Feeling
When you’ve given yourself the adequate amount of time to let your brain catch up to the food you’re eating, you’ll start to notice that you might have the same level of satisfaction you would have anyways if you were rushing. You might even realize the food you’re eating isn’t as tasty as you thought, leading you to avoid some foods you might have previously eaten out of habit rather than appreciation.
Even more – you can avoid that bloated, distended feeling and leave your plate feeling satiated and energetic! That, after all, is the point of eating – to satisfy your need for food without overdoing it and get back to life nourished and ready to go. Imagine feeling refreshed and energized as you get back to work after your lunch break! Imagine not feeling so tired or bloated after dinner time that you can now play with your loved ones or give your significant other the time and focus that cultivates the sense of appreciation and love they really need! There are so many benefits that start with simply eating mindfully.
4.) Take Advantage of Your Body’s Response to the Foods You’re Eating
An added benefit to eating mindfully is that you can start to pinpoint food sensitivities. You might ask yourself, after eating particular foods, “Hey, what did I have to eat and why am I feeling so lousy?” Food sensitivities are a major barrier to weight loss. Some people cannot process certain foods well, and it can lead to bloating, increased levels of cortisol from the stress your digestive system is undergoing while trying to process foods it doesn’t agree with, and ultimately weight gain (or difficulty losing weight).
You can also start to identify your triggers for emotional eating in this way. How do you feel before, during and after a meal? You might ask yourself, “How did those emotions influence what I decided to eat, how much I decided to eat and how fast I decided to eat?” In this way, you can start to break down some of the patterns around unhealthy eating habits by dismantling the effect your emotions have on your decisions. With mindful eating, you’ll begin to notice when you feel satisfied and use that new awareness to push back against some unhealthy patterns – with the ability to say “I don’t need to eat any more right now.”
Mindful Eating is Possibly the Most Significant Weight Loss Skill You Can Develop
What all of this allows you to do is to control your portions without paying attention to the notion of sacrifice. You’ll find that through mindful eating, you’ll eat slowly, feel more satisfied, fully enjoy your meal and control your portions without thinking about the need to sacrifice anything. The size of your stomach is really only the size of your fist – but the way most of us eat, it distends to a large, uncomfortable balloon inside.
Once you begin to eat mindfully, you’ll gradually reduce the amount of food you’re eating, you’ll gradually reduce the size your stomach can expand to before feeling full, and now you can lose weight naturally, keep it off and still truly feel great, energetic and satisfied after a meal.
Changing Your Habits Can Be Difficult – KUDOS Can Help!
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