Isn’t food amazing!… Think about it – we take basic ingredients from nature and combine them in infinitely different ways to make meals that not only fuel our bodies but also offer so much pleasure! How they look, how they smell, how they taste…but when was the last time you stopped to really take your time & appreciate the food on your plate? When did you take the chance to eat mindfully?
With a busy schedule, it can be easy to get caught in a cycle of “multitasking eating”. Whether we are rushing from one activity to the next and forcing down lunch in 3 minutes flat, or we’re eating while working, checking emails, or watching tv & barely noticing what we are putting into our mouths. Either way, when we don’t pay proper attention to our food, our mind and body aren’t connected so we don’t experience the feeling of fullness that we should. This leaves us feeling hungry, even after finishing our meal & more likely to reach for a sugary snack. That’s where mindful eating comes in.
Mindful eating is the act of being present and focused on our food while we eat. We pay close attention to the smell, taste and texture, as well as our body’s cues – Are we full? Are we enjoying what we are eating? A mindful eating practice is a fantastic way to lose weight (if that’s your goal) and to build a better relationship with our food.
So, How Can Mindfulness Help You Lose Weight?
Mindful eating works in two ways. First by eliminating stress, then by slowing us down.
Stress is your digestive system’s worst nightmare. It prevents your body from digesting properly & absorbing all the nutrients it needs from your food. This leaves you craving more to feed your starving cells… Just because we eat an apple, doesn’t necessarily mean that our bodies can make use of all the amazing benefits it has to offer.
By cutting out distractions and forcing us to focus on our food, mindful eating helps us to alleviate stress and activate our parasympathetic nervous system – the rest and digest response. This allows our bodies to make the most of the nutrients we eat, leaving us feeling satisfied, full of energy and less bloated.
The second way mindful eating helps is by slowing us right down. As we eat and our stomach starts to fill up, receptors in the stomach send messages to the brain via the vagus nerve (the longest nerve in the body), to let us know that we are full. Then when the food enters the small intestine, hormones that regulate appetite are released.
But this isn’t an instant process – it can take around 20 minutes for your brain to receive these messages and understand that you should stop eating. So, when we rush and eat too quickly, the stomach doesn’t have sufficient time to connect to the brain. This can lead to overeating without evening realising it… Think about your last meal? How long did you take to finish it? Five minutes? Maybe 10? … it simply isn’t enough.
If all this sounds familiar, I cannot recommend mindful eating enough. It will transform your life, your body and your relationship with food. If your goal is to lose weight and you’ve struggled in the past, give it a try. You’ll soon be enjoying better digestion, taking greater pleasure from your food, experiencing fewer cravings and feeling less stressed & bloated.
How to Start Mindful Eating
- Find a calm, comfortable place to eat – ideally up to a table (not at your desk with your computer).
- Eliminate all distractions – no phone, no TV, no emails or messages.
- Declutter your table & create a zen space for your meal.
- Set a timer for around 15 – 20 minutes. Pace yourself & try to finish your meal as the timer goes off – if you can take longer, that’s even better.
- Avoid answering phone calls or messages while you eat. Whatever it is, it can wait 20 minutes.
- Put your fork down between mouthfuls. Savour each bite without thinking about the next one.
- Try to chew each mouthful 20 – 30 times. The more the better
- Before reaching for a dessert, tune into your body and ask yourself – do I really want it? Am I full? Is there a healthier option?
Still need a little convincing?… I would like to share a powerful testimonial from my client Magda. She lives in London and works very long hours, but she decided to approach mindful eating during our sessions together. Her results have been incredible right from the start. Today, mindful eating is part of her lifestyle; her body looks incredible, and she completely revolutionised her relationship with herself, the food she eats and her home cooking. I am so proud of her.
“When I started practicing mindful eating it was really challenging especially at my working environment. My colleagues didn’t get lunch breaks and they all ate in front of the computer. I wanted to be a part of the team and I felt so isolated every time I would try to have my lunch in our break area. Everyone was looking at me like I was committing a crime or like I wasn’t doing my job. But I knew I had to do what’s best for my health.
It was very difficult at first sitting in silence with my thoughts and eating. With practice I realised how important it is. I found myself eating slower, enjoying every bite and not stuffing myself. I even convinced my partner to practice with me instead of watching tv while eating. Our relationship got stronger as we would actually have a conversation during our meals. We both lost weight as we were more in control of our eating time. Now I don’t feel so “full” and “sick” after overeating and I feel healthier. I’m grateful for Paola introducing me to mindful eating.”
Just remember – you are what you eat, but you are also HOW you eat. Respect yourself and your meal, take your time and pay attention. Dedicate this time to yourself and treat yourself like the hot date that you are – you will soon start to see the results you want!
To book a free 1:1 health consultation with me and talk more about your journey, please complete the contact form online.
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Be mindful today and show yourself some love!