Improve Your Health with Mindful Eating
Do this one simple thing to lose weight and improve digestion. There’s nothing to buy, no exercises to do or appointments to make. Anyone can do this right now. Everyone can benefit starting today.
That one thing is mindful eating. All that needs to be done is to eat food slowly and with complete attention. Readers of this article may think they already consume their food just fine. But most Americans tend to eat in a hurried and distracted manner. We wolf down a donut as we run out the door to the office. Or, we watch t.v. while we eat. Typically, people don’t give mealtime much thought.
Readers of this article might wonder why they should consider eating mindfully.
According to a 1987 study in the journal Gastroenterology, metabolism and digestion change due to external distractions, and not for the better. Researchers first had participants drink a mineral beverage in a relaxed state. Their metabolism was measured and it was discovered that 100% of the drink’s nutrients were absorbed. But then, the researchers had two people talking to each test subject at the same time while the subjects consumed more mineral drink. The assimilation of the beverage was significantly reduced for up to an hour afterwards. In other words, the study suggests that being distracted while eating reduces the absorption of nutrients.
Another negative consequence of hurried, distracted eating is poor digestion. Many people don’t understand that digestion mostly takes place in the mouth while chewing. When we don’t chew food sufficiently, it’s harder for the body to take in. So, a result of hurried eating is often indigestion, bloating and gas. It just makes good sense to slow down and chew food thoroughly.
A funny thing happens when we eat mindfully. As the food is eaten slowly and with full attention to taste, smell and texture, there is a tendency to eat less. The eater may notice they get full on less. This is a real benefit for those who want to lose weight. Imagine that: More enjoyment of food with fewer calories!
We hear all about the importance of eating healthy food, but rarely about how we eat. Meal time as an essential part of the day used to have far more priority. Mindful eating can be a way to reconnect with food in a healthy manner. Not just to get nourishment, but to reconnect with one’s source of sustenance.
According to Dr. Mercola from his article, How to easily cut your calories—eat slowly, “Yes, it’s true. Taking your time when eating and chewing your food well has a number of beneficial side effects. For example, chewing your food twice as long as you normally would will instantly help you control your portion sizes which naturally decreases calorie consumption.”
Mindful eating is nothing new. Buddhist teachings encourage students to pay close attention to all of one’s actions. This includes eating. At Deerpark Monestary in Escondito, CA, attendees are instructed to take a bite of food, sit back and chew at least thirty times before swallowing. The instructions include really tasting the food and feeling its texture before swallowing. Participants don’t talk to one another as they eat. The head monk encourages people to even close their eyes as they eat to get more out of the experience.
Many people are surprised they become full on a lot less food. Their meals taste so much better. They get more enjoyment with fewer calories and more satisfaction. When the eater takes her time during the meal, she may consume less.
Another question that gets asked about the practice of mindful eating is, “doesn’t this take a lot of time? I don’t have all day to chew my food.”
Well, it won’t take all day. But consider the time a person loses from dealing with the pain of indigestion. Similarly, there is a lot of inconvenience and health risks associated with being overweight. In perspective, taking a little more time to chew your food isn’t much of a sacrifice.
The benefits of mindful eating are:
- Consume fewer calories.
- Possible weight loss.
- Get more nutrition from food.
- Get more enjoyment from food.
- Get in touch with the bodies hunger cues.
- Improved digestion.
Don’t do anything else while eating. Don’t read the paper, talk to your dinner companion or look at your Smartphone. Don’t worry about work or money. Look at the food that’s about to be eaten. For example, pick up a pear and notice the color and the smell. Is the pear red, green or brown? Notice it’s characteristic shape. Just before taking a bite, smell the pear. Notice it’s fruity, mouthwatering aroma. Take a bite, chew slowly and really taste the pear. Feel it’s juiciness and somewhat grainy texture. Chew until it’s liquid, and finally, swallow. That’s it! This practice is so simple and yet can be so beneficial.
Bridget Stoll is a freelance writer specializing in health, wellness and fitness. She is a member of American Writers and Artists and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org