Building a Healthier Relationship with Food Through Mindful Eating

Use these advice from professionals to develop the daily, routine practice of mindful eating.

Many of you are all too acquainted with this pattern: You go home from work weary and hungry, whip up dinner quickly, and devour it before you’ve even had a chance to decide which Netflix show you’re going to watch. Although this technique is relevant, it is not the best for your nutritional state.

Eating mindfully is crucial since it involves being present while doing so, paying attention to all the flavors and textures of the meal, and recognizing when you are starting to feel full. Although mindful eating is becoming more and more popular in the health sector and on social media, it is actually an age-old technique that can help us feel better about our eating habits in general.

I talked to David Gaviria, a doctoral student at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of Nutrition, and Kristen Bunich, a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of The Intuitive Dietitian in Charlotte, North Carolina, to learn more about the practice of mindful eating and how you may do it every day.

What is mindful eating?

When we practice mindful eating, we put many of the basic tenets of mindfulness into practice, such as being completely present and taking stock of our thoughts and feelings. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a professor and the director of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, was the first to define mindfulness, a concept with roots in Zen Buddhism. Learning to manage life’s stressors and enhancing your mental and physical health are two goals of mindfulness.

Bunich said mindful eating is specifically the act of developing an awareness of the eating experience. It is about becoming aware of one’s senses and feelings around the meal, as well as physical sensations and how the body responds, all without judgment. It is a way to change one’s eating behaviour and relationship with food.

Eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full are only two aspects of mindful eating. Additionally, the sensory experience extends beyond merely considering taste. The food’s appearance on the plate, aroma, taste, crunch or softness, and how you feel while eating all all be considered when practicing mindful eating.

What advantages can mindful eating offer?

Now a days, distracted eating is the norm. People frequently eat their lunches at their workstations, graze while checking social media, or finish their dinners while watching television. According to Bunich, many people in our society take pleasure in their busy schedules and ability to multitask, but when we lose sight of what we are eating, we risk losing our sense of satisfaction from it as well as the connection between hunger and fullness.

Eating more consciously has several advantages, says Bunich. “Eating more slowly promotes digestion and reduces swelling. Awareness of the signs of satiety is facilitated by a slower pace. This can help you avoid weight gain or lose weight if you previously ate too much. The greatest advantage, however, could be a renewed appreciation for food and an improvement in the pleasure of meals”.

As long as people take care to avoid incorporating aspects of diet culture, mindful eating is a terrific practice, according to Gaviria, who suggests it to many people. It’s a way to truly appreciate food and how your body responds to it, not a technique to lose weight.

How might one go about eating mindfully?

Though it is easy to be busy and prioritize other things than the mealtime, there are things that can be done to refocus the connection with food. According to Bunich, careful eating begins even before you put food on the plate. Before you start eating, think for a moment: “Why do I eat? I am in a state of hunger, boredom, stress or emotion? ” and proceed from there.

Gaviria explained to me how she helps her customers practice conscious eating.

I advise them to find a distraction-free area, so they should put their phones away, turn off the TV, turn off the radio, and simply begin to sit, according to Gaviria. “Be mindful, close your eyes, and pay attention to your feelings. Then, take any food item you want to use to practice mindful eating.”

The first thing you should do is take a good, long look at the food that is on the table. Consider the colors and any textures it may have. Is it angular, straight, or bent? You decide to take up the meal after giving it some thought. Check the texture to check if it is in any way textured—rough, smooth, sticky, greasy, etc. After you’ve finished doing that, you might even begin using your hands to gently squeeze the meal. After that, give it a sniff. Put it up to your nose and take a moment to name each distinct note that comes in with each breath.

Finally, taste it and start probing the details about the flavor of the food: After performing these workouts, is the flavor different? Do you like or dislike the taste? Describe the sensation in your mouth. Do you like the texture? Is it distributed throughout your mouth or does it stick to a point? What is the initial taste and how does it change over time? Do you hear any sound while chewing? And how do you feel afterwards?

This routine caters to all the senses involved in eating, which makes it a great place to start trying to eat more consciously. According to Gaviria, people probably won’t use this practice every day, every meal or every bite of food, but it’s a good starting point for a more in-depth introduction.

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