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Benefits Of Mindful Eating And Ways To Make Your Mealtime A Healthy And Rewarding Experience

It is not simply enough to keep track of the ingredients in your food for a healthy you. It is equally important to be 'aware' of what you are eating and be 'present' when eating. With so many things to do, places to be, and screens to stare at, focusing on your meal during mealtime can be quite strenuous - but not impossible.

When we say mealtime, it does not just mean when you are sitting down to eat the food but also the time you put into preparing those yummy dishes. The article will tell you about mindful eating, the benefits of mindful eating and how you can make your mealtime (cooking and eating) a soul-rewarding experience.

What Is Mindful Eating?

Mindful eating is all about slowing the process (of eating) down, paying closer attention to what you are eating, and listening to your body [1]. Mindfulness means to be present and focusing on the moment, so mindful eating would simply translate to paying attention to what you are eating and everything else that revolves around the mealtime.

Mindful eating has some inclinations to the Mediterranean diet, which focuses on the pattern and proportion of the food being consumed [2]. One of the major benefits of following the Mediterranean diet is that it requires you to sit down and savour the meal with your friends and family. In contrast, this is the usual habit followed by most of us, such as gobbling the food down while sitting slumped in front of the television [3].

Mindful eating encourages you to be more conscious of your food choices, and improve your relationship with food, a gateway to a healthy body and mind [4]. Studies have proven that adopting mindful eating can ultimately change your relationship with food because when you take time to understand the texture, taste and smell of food; and how you feel when you eat, your brain slowly starts to view food as your friend and not an enemy that makes you 'feel better' when you are sad or bored [5][6].

What Are The Benefits Of Mindful Eating?

According to studies, the benefits of mindful eating are as follows:

  • Controls unhealthy food cravings [7].
  • Promotes better digestion.
  • Controls calorie consumption.
  • Allows one to enjoy the food and the environment.
  • Prevents hedonic eating (eating for pleasure to produce feel-good chemicals in the brain) [8].
  • May help reduce stress [9].
  • May help promote weight loss.
  • May promote heart health and blood sugar levels [10].

Making Your Mealtime Healthier: Tips To Add Mindfulness To Your Mealtime

According to science, practising mindful eating can help you make healthier choices and allows your brain and stomach to stop eating when you are full. Here are some tips for adopting mindful eating:

  • First things first, focus on your shopping list. This helps to avoid impulsive buying when you go shopping and stick to a list of foods that are healthy and beneficial for your mind and body.
  • When you are planning cook for the next meal, do not over commit, as this may stress you out. Stick to a manageable meal plan.
  • When you are cooking, serving, and eating the food, be attentive to the colour, texture, aroma, and even the sounds different foods make as you prepare them.
  • Enjoy the process of cooking, smell the spices, stir the food, feel the warmth of the food being cooked; instead of seeing cooking as a hurried practice, take it slow and learn to enjoy it.
  • Add colours to your food, because as studies point out, eating a meal that is an explosion of colours (some spinach, beetroot, bell peppers, carrots etc.) can elevate your mealtime experience.
  • Eat when you have an appetite, not when your hunger levels reach the maximum as this will not let you enjoy the food but make you gobble the food up without enjoying it.
  • Start with a small portion.
  • Take small bites, as it is easier to taste food completely when your mouth is not full.
  • Chew thoroughly and well until you can taste the essence of the food.
  • Appreciate your food; pause for a minute before you begin eating and take it all in.
  • At the end of the day, slow down and enjoy your food and take a moment to focus on the meal.

Mindful eating is not just about choosing the right food or the right time to eat. It is inclusive of all that comes before and after it, such as making the shopping list, buying groceries, prepping the food, serving the food, etc.

On A Final Note...

Well, you are supposed to eat three meals a day, might as well do it the right way isn't it? Incorporate mindful eating to your habits and watch the positive changes for yourself.

Story first published: Thursday, January 21, 2021, 16:53 [IST]
Read more about: eating nutrition dinner breakfast
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