Mindless eating is eating without awareness. Unknowingly munching on more food that you had intended and more than your body needs. Studies have found that when we aren’t paying attention to what we eat, digestion can be 30 to 40 percent less efficient. This could lead to gastrointestinal distress such as gas and bloating.
A more evident side effect of overeating is obesity, which is quickly becoming one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
In Mindful Eating Part 1, the first five healthy habits were discused. This article will examine the final five:
- Have healthy food in your cabinets. With good food choices, you can snack healthier. Choosing to not have unhealthy foods in your house will help stop temptations.
- Avoid skipping meals. Eating on a regular schedule help maintain your metabolism. It also ensures you don’t get too hungry before your next meal, which helps avoid over eating.
- Control what foods you eat. Just because a food is in front of you or in the same room does not mean you have to eat it. Throw it out, bring it to work to share, give it to neighbors, or give it to guests to bring home. By doing this, the food won’t be left behind for you to eat.
- Limit portions in restaurants. Ask the server to bring a take home container with the meal. Pack half your meal and bring it home to eat at a later date.
- Cognitive Restructuring: Stop, Breathe, Reflect, and Choose. This is effective before choosing snacks or taking second helpings. It makes you think about whether you really want or need the food. Are you really hungry or just bored, anxious, or stressed? This technique can help stop impulse eating. It’s important to reinforce the urge by eating right away, instead stop yourself, take ten deep breathes, think about your decision, and choose a better option.
When practicing being mindful, the goal is to truly experience eating. After taking a bite of your food, ask yourself: What does the food feel like in your mouth? Roll the food around, does it have a rough or smooth texture? Is it chewy, crunchy, gooey or crisp? What flavors do you detect? After you chew it for a bit, do the tastes or texture change? Experience the transition from chewing to swallowing.
By paying attention to all the senses while eating, you’ll discover new things about how you eat. Do you eat too fast? Don’t really taste the food? Does your mind wander a lot when chewing and swallowing? One idea is to practice this exercise with the first bite of each meal. This sets the tone and helps you to be mindful throughout the eating occasion.
Have you tried any of the ten mindful eating habits? Which works for you?
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