Monday, April 8, 2013

Eating Mindfully

Eating mindfully is a key component to being healthy and losing weight. If you are not aware of what you are putting in your body, you have no way to control it.

Over the next couple of days, make notes of your environment as well as your actions while you're eating.
During your meal, figure out how mindful you are being of your eating habits.

Are any of these showing up in your notes?

•Eating in front of the t.v.
• Eating in the car
•Eating while you're on the telephone?
•Eating while working on the computer
•Eating at your work desk
•Eating while reading
•Feel so stuffed after your meal that you are miserable?
•Are you filling your fork with another bite while there is still food in your mouth?


Any of the above can definitely be signs of mindless eating. These actions can put you in danger of zoning out and result in overeating. As much as we try to be mutli-taskers, our brains can really focus on only one thing at a time. So if you are reading, or typing, or doing anything while you're eating, you will more than likely miss the signs of fullness. If you eat in front of the tv late at night and overeat, this can impact digestion and sleep. I've said this before, and I'll say it again: there's nothing wrong with eating in front of the tv as long as you plan it out. If you want to do it, and I do it all the time... fix your plate in the kitchen, and limit yourself to what you prepared. Tell yourself that's all you can eat- that way you are setting yourself up for tv munchie success! The same would go for any other distracted eating. I pretty much have to eat at my desk every night at work. I bring my dinner, so I know exactly how much I'll be able to eat.

One of my biggest problems is eating to fast. I'm really bad about not really making the effort to chew properly and take pauses between bites. This tends to create a strain on the digestive system. Digestion begins in the mouth w/saliva. You have to chew your food properly, or else you are creating more work for the digestive process.

According to Lisette Cifaldi, a speaker on Behavioral Health, Mindless eating affects the whole person:

Physical: Physical discomfort from excess food, weight gain, physical repercussions of escessive weight, digestive problems, sleep disturbances, etc...
Emotional: Emotions are numbed and stuffed with excess food. Mindless eating is often used to avoid the emotional experience.
Spiritual: Mindless eating detaches us from a spiritual connection.

Cifaldi defines mindful eating as: "eating with intention and attention." When you do this, you are purposely aware of what you are eating and are consciously aware of the process of eating. You notice the sensations involved and how your body responds to them.

This next part is really interesting to me.

Smell and taste, and the effects they have on your eating, according to Cifaldi:

•As you chew, you're forcing air through your nasal passages, carrying the smell of the food along with it. Without that interplay of taste and smell, you wouldn't be able to grasp complex flavors. Instead you'd be limited to the basic taste sensations picked up chemically by the tongue: salty, sour, sweet, and bitter.
•One reason Americans may be becoming more obese as a population is that we serve way too much in one course. It is usually the case that we actually stop tasting our food after the 3rd or 4th bite, but we don't realize it because we are still smelling it. The nasal cavity and oral cavity are closely connected, separated only by the palate. so it makes sense that the two senses go hand in hand.

Aspects of Mindful Eating (Also per Cifaldi. I really like her work, in case you can't tell! :)

•Put one small bite in your mouth, You only   have taste buds on your tongue, so flavors of a large bite of food are lost on your teeth, cheeks, and the roof of your mouth.
•Notice the texture and flavors of the food on your tongue, then slowly begin to chew it. Breathe in, since flavors other than salty, sweet, bitter, and sour, and come from the aromas.
•Set your fork down between bites. If you begin to load your next forkful, your attention will be on your next bite, not the one you are eating now. If you focus on the next bite of food instead of the one you are eating, you won;t stop eating until there are no more forkfuls.
•Sit for a moment and let the flavors and experience linger before you take the next bite.
•Notice the food gently fills your stomach. Pause for several moments in the middle of eating to reconnect to your hunger and fullness levels.

Cifaldi's steps to Minful Eating:

•Start small. Like all new habits, it's best to set realistic expectations.
Stop multitasking at meal time.
•Only eat at the table.
•Appreciate the appearance of your food.
•Focus on each mouthful.
•Chew!
•Use cutlery and out it down between mouthfuls.
•Talk and share
•Go for quality, not quantity.
•Make time to prepare your own meals, preferably from fresh ingredients.

Mindful eating goes hand in hand with emotional eating in my opinion. I have so many bad food habits that I am working on breaking and it is no easy feat! I think it just makes sense to make yourself aware of what is going in your body, otherwise, how will you be able to pinpoint the problems?







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