The Benefits of Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is making an effort to be self aware and undistracted when you eat. It also means choosing foods that will nourish your body along with allowing enough time to fully enjoy and chew your meal. This means staying away from distractions (like TV) and giving yourself sufficient time relax. I suggest aiming for at least 20-30 minutes per meal. This promotes a beneficial state of parasympathetic relaxation rather than a fight or flight stress response which could impair digestion. If this is challenging at first, start with an amount of time you are comfortable with and increase it by 5 minutes at a time. The following are benefits from mindful eating..
1. You'll not only be more satiated, but you'll find your food more enjoyable. Chewing slowly will give your body sufficient time to produce the signals needed for you to feel full and feel more satisfied. Slower eaters are also less likely to experience heartburn and gas than those that eat more quickly.
2. Chewing your food thoroughly will improve the break down and absorption of nutrients for optimal digestion. This alone can be a powerful tool in achieving optimal nutrient status.
3. You'll learn to be more in touch with your body. You'll learn to recognize feelings of satisfaction and be more likely to notice when you're eating out of hunger or eating out of emotion. Remember the real signals of being hungry: growling stomach and low energy vs the real symptoms of eating out of emotion: craving foods for comfort rather than physical symptoms of hunger.
4. Mindful eating promotes weight loss by reducing the amount of food you feel compelled to eat. Studies have shown that practicing mindful eating can help with binge eating and emotional eating. Many mindful eaters learn to recognize the feelings they experience while eating, when they are full and how they feel after a meal, which help them make new, more beneficial choices and associations with food.