Emotional Eating: How Mindful Eating Helps
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Mindful eating is the opposite of mindless eating. When you eat mindfully, you are completely aware of the properties of the food, the taste of the food and selecting foods to eat on purpose. It is not a diet. There is no meal plan to follow or food restrictions. It is developing a true mindset around food.
Being fully present when you eat, can help binge and emotional eaters. Studies have shown that mindful eating can reduce binges and overeating and can help you lose weight and reduce your body mass index (BMI). Naturally, it makes sense that mindfulness is helpful to over eaters since you tend to eat less by listening to your bodies needs. If you aren’t ready for a full on clean eating overhaul, then mindful eating is a great place to start.
In short, mindful eating is helpful to both emotional eaters and to someone who might be overly strict on their diet. In both cases, you can lose sight of your bodies cues. The line between your body and your brain needs to be healed.
Why is mindful eating so important?
Well, for most of us, our eating habits are deeply rooted in us. You order the same food when you go to a certain restaurant; you cleaned your plate even when you were full part of the way through. Therefore, anything outside of our normal habits requires attention so we can choose a different course. Mindless eating is the biggest instigator in our unhealthy eating habits.
Even if you are eating whole, clean foods but aren’t eating mindfully, you can still overeat. If you aren’t in tune you can still overeat, choose bigger options, and not listen to your body cues.
When you eat mindfully, you are tasting your foods, feeling the textures, and the delight that comes with the food. Consequently, mindfulness causes your food taste better, and you will likely be more satisfied. People who eat mindfully say they naturally eat less without feeling deprived or starved. Did you know it takes 20 minutes for the fullness signal to reach your brain?
Mindfulness inevitably means more thorough chewing. Which, in turn, leads to more satisfaction and fullness after a meal. Another benefit is better digestion. When you switch from processed food to mostly whole foods its often overlooked the extra chewing that is necessary to help break down the extra fiber and protein. This can lead to stomach cramps and other digestive issues.
Finally, being mindful puts you more in tune with your body and the way certain foods make you feel and the easier it is to make healthy choices. Over time you will learn what true hunger, fatigue, and emotional comfort and make the choices accordingly. The same poor eating choices will likely continue if you don’t become aware of how you respond to these different feelings.
How do you eat mindfully?
-sit at the table, not in front of the tv
-no phones, computers, tablets, books, etc.
-don’t eat from the package
-take your first bite with your eyes closed
-pause between each bite, placing your fork on your plate is a great tool
-chew your food more (25 times)
-take smaller bites
-eat with your non-dominate hand
-use smaller plates, serve smaller portions (20% less)
-practice, practice, practice
It can take time to get in the habit of eating mindfully. It is one of the most struggled eating habits. Start with one meal a day, for a few days and gradually add in other meals. Consistency, like with any other change in habit, is key. Do this every day for 30 days—It takes 21 consecutive days to make something a habit—then, you should see that mindful eating comes more natural to you.