Up Your Food Game
No matter what your goals are when it comes to eating, your relationship with food, or your body, mindful eating should be #1 on the list. Not only will you notice an impact in the choices you make when you eat, but you will also discover a whole new level of engagement in your daily routine. Check out the full article below.
Why should mindful eating be your top priority?
Because there are so many benefits that come from mindful eating. Each one of us can benefit from this, in one way or another, even if it’s just learning to recognize the good, bad, and the ugly about diet plans and eating patterns.
Food tastes better when you take the time to notice it
First thing first: food is tasty and eating is fun. Food is a central part of our lives for reasons ranging from staying alive to socializing. If you like food, savoring your food by eating mindfully and slowly gives you more time to really enjoy it. Mindful eating allows you to taste all the tastes and feel all the feels.
We tend to eat quickly and miss out on a lot of the details of our eating experience.
Have you ever heard of The Raisin Meditation? It’s a mindful eating exercise where you eat one raisin as slowly as possible, while paying close attention to your senses (taste, texture, and so on), thoughts (like, “Gee I hate raisins!”), and feelings (“This is weird/interesting/cool”).
But wait, there’s more! Mindful eating gives your body more time to secrete digestive enzymes which ensure food is more processed, making digestion more efficient. In slightly more gross terms, your body doesn’t have to work as hard to deal with big chunks of not-so-thoroughly chewed food in the stomach. This is good news for your body because digestion is a big factor in overall health, especially immunity.
You’ll learn when you’re really full
You’ll also develop a better connection to your sense of satiety—or ‘ sense of pleasant fullness.’ That means you’ll be able to feel when it’s the right time to stop eating, rather than relying on external metrics like a meal plan or portion sizes.
It takes time to develop awareness of satiety in your body. Slowing down and paying attention to each mouthful provides you the opportunity to notice the subtle changes that are happening in your body while you eat.
One cool example of this is being able to notice when the intensity of taste is fading away. Ever notice how the last part of a bag of chips isn’t quite an enjoyable as the first part? That’s not because you ‘ate too many chips’ (although maybe you did, but that’s your call). It’s because our taste buds acclimate to the taste and it all ends up a little ‘meh’ after a while.
If you really like the taste of something, eating it mindfully and being able to walk away when that taste experience isn’t at its peak anymore is a great way to practice ‘portion control’ while still really enjoying what you’re eating and not feeling deprived.
Mindful eating has also been found to reduced stress based inflammation. Digestion is part of our parasympathetic nervous system, which is activated when we are relaxed, and eating slowly keeps it in a relaxed state. When the opposing sympathetic nervous system is activated, we are in an alert state and digestion takes a back seat as far as your body’s priorities go.
If you’re working on weight loss or health goals, mindful eating can be very helpful to you as well.
Mindful eaters tend to eat less food and feel full for longer, compared to people who ate quickly.
The next time you find yourself hungry an hour before lunch, think back to how quickly you ate breakfast. Wouldn’t it be cool to eat the same amount of food and feel energized and satisfied for longer?
Improve your mental health
You might be surprised to learn that mental health can be improved with mindful eating. Taking more time to enjoy a meal is a simple way to slow down and pay attention to what we are doing. It helps to relax and recharge our minds.
There is a growing body of evidence that shows there is a strong connection between the health of our gastrointestinal tract and our mood and cognition. For example, most of the neurotransmitter serotonin in our body is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, and serotonin is associated with happiness and positive mood.
Low levels of serotonin can contribute to depression and anxiety, and there are common prescription medications designed to help boost serotonin levels (SSRIs like Prozac and Zoloft).
Developing mindful eating practices is definitely worth the energy investment. This is the kind of habit that has a huge positive spillover effect on many different aspects of health and wellness.
Learn more about mindfulness and see how much of an impact it can have on your life!
- Self-Care Improves Life for Your Friends and Family - July 22, 2020
- All the Workout Feels - December 4, 2017
- Mindful Eating Is the Game Changer You Need - June 11, 2017