What Is ‘Mindful Eating’?
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Mindfulness is a mental state that is achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment. Mindful eating uses this practice by eating with attention and intention.
Mindless eating is the consumption of food while multitasking. This takes our focus away from the meal we are having. We often pair our meals with watching television, working, or performing other tasks that take our attention away from our food.
There are different reasons why we get hungry. Biological hunger is a physical feeling. When our stomach growls, this is a physical indication of hunger. This feeling is brought on due to hormonal changes from insulin levels. Our body is telling us it is time to refuel.
“Head hunger”, on the other hand, is emotional hunger. Eating based on head hunger may result in us eating when our body isn’t really hungry, thus taking in more food than we may need. Emotional eating can be caused by the need for comfort, such as times when we are feeling overwhelmed or upset. We can also experience this during positive or neutral experiences, such as wanting to celebrate with food or when we crave snacks when feeling bored.
Internal triggers, such as emotions, can affect our cravings for certain foods. External triggers in our environments can also do this, such as holidays and group gatherings where we often have an abundance of meals, snacks, and desserts available for multiple days at a time and this can lead to us overeating.
We can practice mindful eating by keeping in mind these tips:
- Notice how your food looks and smells before tasting
- Appreciate your meal
- Eat slowly
- Bring awareness to your current stress-levels
- Don’t deprive yourself of your favorite foods, but pay attention to portion size
- Set aside time for meals instead of eating while working or on the go