Our bodies are truly incredible. Our digestion alone combines an intricate weave of our nervous, endocrine, and gastrointestinal systems with thoughts, emotions, expectations, social norms, and much more to regulate our hunger and fullness cues.
No matter what your nutrition goals are, learning how to regulate our eating behaviors so that they are consistently reasonable is an essential skill. One of the foundations of this is to be more mindful about the foods we eat and how we eat them.
What is mindful eating?
First of all, mindful eating is NOT a diet. It’s the practice of managing your emotions and physical sensations around food. By eating slowly and being aware of the present moment (also known as being mindful about what we consume), we are better able to manage our cravings and physical cues when eating. This allows our systems to work their very best and absorb the most nutrients.
There are two components of this we discuss with clients:
Eat Slowly and Mindfully
At the most basic level, slow down when you eat. Put your utensils down between bites and pause for a moment. If you do nothing else, slowing the pace at which food enters your GI tract will go a long way.
Eliminate distractions. Put your phone away and turn off the TV. Sit down at the table.
Notice the taste and texture of the food. Savor each bite. Chew slowly and enjoy the actual process of eating.
Why is this skill important?
Not only does this help us recognize our physiological hunger and fullness cues, but it also helps us to eat less while feeling more satisfied because our GI tract has time to send fullness signals to our brain. We experience our food more fully and have a chance to appreciate all the nutritional value of the ingredients. This also allows us to digest our food better because we are putting food into our system more slowly and calmly.
Be Mindful About Foods You Choose to Eat
Make a conscious decision about WHAT foods you are eating. Do you tend to be a binge eater? Before mindlessly reaching into that bag of chips or digging into that carton of ice cream, take a few moments to pause and think: I really WANT to eat this? WHY do I want to eat this? Being mindful about WHAT we consume is just as important as HOW we eat it.
Why is this important?
By taking a moment or two to really internalize the decision you are about to make regarding the foods you eat can help avoid a lot of excess calories. That plate of cookies might taste amazing in the moment, but soon after the resulting sugar crash and upset stomach won’t feel too great. This type of mindful eating can help us make better decisions and choose better foods to fuel our bodies and avoid binges.
While eating mindfully takes practice, it is a powerful tool in regaining control over food. When we eat slowly and mindfully, we are better able to tell the difference between emotional and physical hunger and a achieve much better appetite awareness. This goes a long way to help us make real lasting changes, form a healthier relationship with food, and maintain long term success.
We help our nutrition clients master the basics of nutrition and learn skills they can turn into long term healthy lifestyle habits (both in person and virtually!). Want to learn more about how we can help you? Schedule your free intro with us below!
About the Author
Karen Hazelton is Precision Nutrition Level One Certified. Her sports background is in tennis, and through hard work and dedication she earned a Division One tennis scholarship to University of Northern Colorado. An important component of her training was developing strength in the weight room. Being physically strong and having a good foundation of metabolic conditioning was essential to playing her best on the court. After earning a degree in mathematics, she moved back to her hometown of Tucson and became a high school math teacher.
Karen loved her work as a teacher, but after taking time out of the classroom to raise her two young kids, she realized how she missed coaching and working with athletes. That led her to obtain her training and nutrition certifications. She loves to see clients use fitness and nutrition to become stronger, happier, and healthier versions of themselves.