In this episode, Joanne explores the transformative practice of mindful eating. Discover how embracing this approach can improve digestion, support weight management, and enhance emotional well-being. She'll also provide practical tips to help you incorporate mindful eating into your daily routine, fostering a healthier relationship with food and promoting overall wellness. Tune in and learn how to nourish your body, mind, and soul through the power of mindful eating.
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*This podcast does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and its contents are intended for informational purposes only.
Welcome to Episode Twenty six of our Full Spectrum Wellness Podcast. I'm so happy and excited to be back here with you for our twenty-sixth episode.
We’re living in unusual times. It’s more important than ever to focus on health. Stress can lead to poor eating habits. It’s no secret that many people turn to food during times of high anxiety. This can result in overeating and poor food choices.
So today I wanted to talk about the concept of mindful eating, the benefits it offers for your overall well-being, and how you can incorporate this practice into your daily routine.
There are biological reasons that so many people eat when stressed. When a person is physically or emotionally stressed, the body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol does a lot of things, including increasing food cravings for foods high in sugar or fat.
Stress also increases the hormones that produce feelings of hunger. Stress is harmful to your mind and body.
It’s especially important to be mindful during those periods of time you’re experiencing stress.
Stress makes it much more like that you will:
Experience hunger even though you’ve already had plenty to eat. Eating when your body doesn’t need food increases the chance of unintentional weight gain and can negatively affect your health.
Just because you’re hungry doesn’t mean you should eat. Hunger is a signal that you should consider eating. So, consider it. But if you’ve already had enough to eat, make the decision to pass.
Eat when you’re not hungry. If eating makes you feel better, your brain doesn’t care if you’re hungry or not. It will make eating seem like a great idea. Unfortunately, eating when your body doesn’t need food leads to weight gain, which contributes to the development of many diseases.
Eat unhealthy foods. Under stress, many people will resort to eating all sorts of things they know they shouldn’t eat. Chips, ice cream, processed meats, sweets, and other unhealthy foods suddenly become even more appealing than they usually are.
Eat too much. Eating while stressed is likely to result in overeating. And not only do you eat too much, but you’re likely to be eating unhealthy foods.
Eat in a way that makes you feel even worse. If you’re eating when your body doesn’t need food, and you’re eating foods that aren’t good for you, you’re almost certainly going to feel worse after you eat than you felt before you started.
Eat mindlessly in general. Stress takes your mind off the eating experience. You’re more likely to find yourself eating while watching TV, watching YouTube videos, thinking about whatever is causing you stress, or daydreaming.
Stress is a part of life now more than ever. It’s easy to allow your eating patterns to get out of control when you’re stressed. You’re more likely to crave unhealthy foods or eat when you’re not even hungry. Stress and poor eating habits are strongly linked.
Mindful eating is a practice that encourages us to pay attention to our hunger and fullness cues, savour the flavors and textures of our food, and appreciate the nourishment it provides. Simply put Mindful eating is eating with your full awareness on your food and the entire eating process This approach to eating promotes a healthier relationship with food and can lead to improved digestion, weight management, and emotional well-being. Let's explore the principles of mindful eating in more detail.
Most people sit down for a meal and mindlessly fill themselves up. They often overeat because they aren’t paying attention to whether they’re full or not. They eat unhealthy food because they haven’t given serious thought to the nutritional value of their meal they’re about to eat.
Their mind isn’t on their meal. They’re thinking about the bills that need to be paid. They might be watching TV. They might even be driving down the road while eating a meal. This is the exact opposite of mindful eating.
There are several benefits to practicing mindful eating. Some of these include:
Better digestion. Slowing down and chewing your food thoroughly helps your body break down and absorb nutrients more efficiently.
Weight management: By paying attention to hunger and fullness cues, you'll be less likely to overeat and can maintain a healthy weight.
Emotional well-being: Mindful eating helps you develop a more balanced relationship with food, reducing emotional eating and fostering self-compassion.
Here are some practical tips to help you incorporate mindful eating into your daily routine:
Hunger. Ask yourself before you start eating, “Am I hungry?” If you’re not hungry and you’re not planning on climbing a mountain later that day, you’re probably better off not eating. Your body is very adept at telling you when it requires more food. Consider these questions:
If you are hungry, how hungry are you?
Should you be hungry based on your recent eating activity?
How much food do you think it will take to satisfy you?
What are you hungry for? Is that a healthy option?
Nutritional Value. Before eating anything, think about the nutritional value of that food. Roughly how many calories is it? Is it a food high in carbohydrates? Is it high in fat? Does it contain a lot of vitamins and minerals, or is it basically junk food?
What are your current goals regarding your health and body weight? Does this food help you to achieve those goals, or will it move you in the opposite direction?
Project into the future. Most people only consider how a food is going to make them feel while they’re eating it. They fail to consider how they will feel physically and emotionally after the act of eating has concluded.
Before you eat something, ask yourself how you’ll feel immediately afterwards, and how you’ll feel an hour or two later.
Appearance. What does the food look like? What color is it? Is it appealing? How is the food arranged on the plate? Based on the appearance, how do you anticipate the food will taste and feel in your mouth?
Smell. What do you smell? Can you smell the spices used in the food? How do you anticipate the food will taste based on the smell? Can you tell how hot the food is by bringing it close to your nose?
Taste. It’s time to finally taste your food. Feel your jaw moving. Notice how your tongue is involved in the eating process.
Take your time and chew your food thoroughly. Depending on what you’re eating this might require quite a bit more time than you’re used to. It’s a lot easier on your body to digest food that’s been chewed very thoroughly.
Notice the flavour of the food. Describe the taste to yourself.
Texture. What does the food feel like in your mouth? Is it crunchy? Hot? Cold? Slimy? Soft? Describe the texture to yourself. Pay attention to the texture after you’re done chewing and about to swallow. What does your food feel like now?
The effect on your mind and body. Foods can affect your mood and your body.
For example, most people find the taste of chocolate to be very soothing. Hot, spicy foods can be invigorating and make you sweat. You might find that foods containing gluten make you feel bad mentally and/or physically. Maybe you feel guilty about eating animal products.
Notice the effects that your meal has on your mind and body during and after the meal. Pay attention for two hours after the meal and rate how you feel.
Presence. Are you paying attention to the overall eating process? Or is your mind somewhere else? Are you having a lively debate at the dinner table? Are you watching a movie in the background? Listening to music? Playing a game? Worrying about your finances? Thinking about work?
If you’re eating mindfully, you’re not thinking about, or paying attention to, anything outside of the meal.
This doesn't mean it’s necessary to ignore your family during a meal but keep the distractions to a minimum and focus on your meal. You can chat more or play a game afterwards.
No phones, radios, TVs, tablets, computers, books, or games while you’re eating.
Mindful eating is putting your full awareness on the eating experience. It also includes understanding your eating habits, evaluating hunger, choosing the right foods for you, eating the proper amounts, and being fully engaged with the eating process while you’re eating.
Eating mindfully is a big change for most people. Maybe you’re used to standing in the kitchen and eating a frozen pizza while you watch YouTube videos. Moving from that experience to eating at the table, chewing slowly and thoroughly, focusing on your food, and eating in silence might be a bridge too far for a single step.
Instead, try implementing one aspect of mindful eating at a time:
Focus on chewing your food very slowly for several days.
Spend a week putting your full attention on the eating experience.
Make a real effort to choose your foods mindfully.
Track your food intake for a week. Notice the quality of the food and the number of calories.
Only allow yourself to eat while hungry.
Break down mindful eating to its individual components and become skilled at each one before moving on to another. Slow progress is a million times better than no progress.
It’s not a race.
So next time you sit down for a meal remember to set the scene: Create a peaceful eating environment by decluttering your dining space and minimising distractions. Savour the flavours: Take the time to truly taste and enjoy the flavours, textures, and aromas of your food. Listen to your body: Tune into your hunger and fullness cues and honour your body's needs without judgement. Express gratitude: Before each meal, take a moment to express gratitude for the nourishment your food provides.
Mindful eating is a powerful practice that can transform your relationship with food and improve your overall well-being. By incorporating these tips into your daily routine, you'll cultivate a greater appreciation for the nourishment you receive and develop a more balanced, healthy approach to eating.