What is Mindfulness? According to Mindfulness - Wikipedia ‘it is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment.’ “Mindfulness is derived from ‘sati’, a significant element of ‘Buddhist’ traditions and based on ‘ Zen’, ‘Vipassana’ and Tibetan meditation techniques”.
My research found that Mindful Eating according to Getting Started with Mindfulness - Mindful, Mindfulness - Wikipedia, and https://spectrum.diabetesjournals.org/content/30/3/171, all mentioned Jon Kabat-Zin as the person who defined mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally”. He was the original developer and leader of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program.
In all of my research I have found the following mindful eating is:
- Not about calories, fat, protein
- It is not about our definition of good or bad dieting
- It is about the awareness of what, where, and when we eat
- It is about getting to understand what are your signals that tell you when you are hungry or thirsty
- It is about learning if you are eating because of loneliness, depression, anxiety
Mindful Eating techniques include:
- Looking at the size shape and colour of your food
- Smelling the aroma of the food and spices
- Feeling the texture, size and shape of handheld foods
- Feeling the texture, size and shape of food in your mouth
- How do these foods feel when you bite into them - hard, soft, salty. hot, cold, sweet, sour, dry moist etc.
- Does the texture of the food change as you continue to chew on it, does it take a long time to become soft and easy to swallow?
Are you eating in a distracted way? In our modern fast paced society with all our technical devices and daily distractions, people don’t think they have the time to eat in a mindful manner.
My advice is to turn off electronics. This includes TV sets, computers and cellphones. This does not mean you have to take three or four minutes for each bite of food. However, you should take at least 20 minutes to eat a meal. Enjoy eating with other people as often as possible and hold a conversation with one another.
Research into mindful eating from the Harvard University health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/mindful-eating states “Slowdown you’re eating too fast. Distracted hurried eating may add on pounds and take away pleasure”
“A small yet growing body of research suggests that a slower more thoughtful way of eating may help with weight problems and may steer some people away from processed food and other less-helpful choices”
The Mind-Gut Connection
“Digestion involves a complex series of hormonal signals between the gut and the nervous system, and it takes about 20 minutes for the brain to register satiety (fullness). If someone eats too quickly satiety may occur after overeating instead of putting a stop to it. There’s also reason to believe that eating while we’re distracted by activities like driving or typing may slow down digestion in a manner similar to how the ‘fight or flight’ response does. If we’re not digesting well we might be missing out on some of the nutritive value of some of the food we’re consuming.”
Harvard University offers the following suggestions
A Starter Kit
Experts suggest starting gradually with Mindful Eating one meal a day or week in a slower, more attentive manner.
- Set your kitchen timer to 20 minutes, and take time to eat a normal sized meal
- Try eating with your non-dominant hand; if your a righty hold your fork with your left hand when lifting food to your mouth.
- Use chopsticks if you don’t normally use them.
- Eat silently for five minutes, thinking about what it took to produce that meal, from the sun’s rays to the farmer to the cook.
- Take small bites and chew well.
- Before opening that fridge or cupboard, take a deep breath and ask yourself “Am I really hungry?” Do something else like reading or going for a short walk.
I would add on to this, try drinking water if you think you are hungry, as your system doesn't always know if it is thirsty or hungry. Make sure you drink water, as other drinks, because of their sugar content, may trigger your hunger.