3 Health Benefits of Mindful Eating

3 Benefits of Mindful EatingWhen was the last time you sat down to eat without your phone, tablet or television turned on in front of you? Were you mindful about the foods you ate? How did this impact your health?

In our rush to get from one activity to the next, eating often gets pushed back as a task on a to-do list. We race to get something to eat, to then stuff our faces while our minds are concentrating on anything but the foods on our plates and then we hurry back to our desks to finish checking off things from that never-ending list.

Eating becomes a mechanical act. We bite, we chew, we swallow, barely giving thought to what we’re actually doing.

I had this experience recently with a pear. There I was, reading an article about how healthcare technology is putting patients back in the driver’s seat for their health, and inhaling my pear. Literally, gobbling it down without sparing a thought to the flavor or texture or how it was nourishing my body. I just went through the robotic motions of biting, chewing, and swallowing while my eyes were glued to the screen.

About halfway through my pear, I stopped and realized how awful this was. The irony of what I was doing juxtaposed with what I was reading wasn’t lost on me either. It was mid-morning and I was already starving. The pear was meant to get me past that hump until lunch, but I couldn’t muster the energy to pay attention to what I was doing long enough to feel anything. Instead of feeling satiated, I still felt hungry.

I took that moment to stop and refocus my energy on the pear. The shape, the color, the scent, the taste. I turned off my screen so I would have even fewer distractions. The goal was to engage all my senses in the experience of eating that pear. And it was worth that effort. I actually felt satisfied by the end of the process.

We’ve trained ourselves to fill each moment with more than one activity. Our fear of missing out (#FOMO for the cool kids), keeps us locked in a cycle of constant connectivity and anxiety. Taking the time to focus on just eating almost seems like a luxury. That’s what Europeans do, right? Siestas and long dinners where people are doing nothing but eating and drinking? That can’t be healthy.

eating at work

courtesy hkfbapps.com

Is finishing a large club sandwich in under five minutes healthy?

We’ve lost touch with how the act of eating affects our physical, emotional and mental health. It’s so more than just a biological function.

By applying some of the principles behind mindful meditation to eating, we can explore how increasing our attention to the foods we eat and the process of consumption can positively impact our health.

3 (of many) health benefits of mindful eating:

  • Taking the time to eat mindfully engages all of our senses and encourages self-awareness. By experiencing each part of the process in an unhurried fashion, you can evaluate how your food choices make you feel. Consider the choice between a bag of potato chips and a small green salad. How do the different colors appeal to you? What did the chips feel like on your hands? Did the salty chips taste better than the salad by the end? Keep your mind open to all of these observations.
  • Mindful eating awakens a connection to family, culture, and tradition. Sitting down to enjoy a meal with friends or family forges a bond. This creates new, positive experiences around food that can help build healthier habits over time. It nourishes the soul as much as the body.

family mindful eating

  • If soul nourishing isn’t on your agenda today, then consider how mindful eating can help you lose weight. By giving the brain time to process the physical act of eating, your body can properly digest the necessary nutrients from your meal and signal the brain that it’s actually satisfied. This is metabolism folks. The body¬†was built for this. Forget about foods that speed this up for you. Dedicate each meal time to just eating and you’ll find that you have a better idea of what foods will give you energy and make you feel great, decrease the need for snacking, and keep you from overeating.
Eating habits cartoon

courtesy chibird.tumblr. com

The next time you sit down to a meal, forget about your schedule. Turn off all of your electronic devices. Focus all of your energy on the foods in front of you.

What does it look like?

How does it feel in your hands?

Does the aroma remind you of a happy memory?

Relish in that for a minute before you dig in. As you start to eat, take your time. Everything you need to do will keep for twenty minutes.

awareness checklist

courtesy eatingmindfully.com

Will you give this a shot?

How do you feel about mindful meditation?

How much time do you spend eating each meal?

Please feel free to share your comments below or on FB and Twitter.

As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! :-)

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About Maribel Marmol

Stay positive. Eat well. Travel consciously. Move yourself. Change the world.
This entry was posted in Latest Musings, Nutrition and Health, Wellness & Spirituality and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to 3 Health Benefits of Mindful Eating

  1. Chaitali says:

    Great post! I’m horrible about eating too quickly and this is something I need to keep reminding myself. I had bought a book on meditation years ago and one of the first exercises it suggested was eating an orange mindfully while paying attention to the whole process of peeling and eating it. It was an interesting experience.

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    • It does require some mental effort! Similar to my pear experiment which I did at my desk in the middle of the workday; not the easiest thing with all of the distractions at my job. I think the way we eat is just one of the many ways we’ve adapted our lifestyles to this ‘go-go-go’ pace. I’m guilty of it too. I felt like this deserved a bit of discussion. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  2. Jacki says:

    Great post. I was just reading series on mindful eating and they suggested putting the folk down between every bite. Not only does it help slow you down, but I’m certain I would like chew my food more if I did this, which has been shown to have tremendous health benefits.
    Thankfully, we already keep the phones far away from the table, but we do have a few nights a week where we eat in front of the TV. Sometimes it’s just for fun (pizza and movie), but I think I need to be more mindful of this being an “event” and not a 3x a week occurrence.

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    • Thanks so much! I think that if you’re doing this to enjoy some time with your loved ones, it’s not so terrible. Digital devices are engrained in our lives, whether we like it or not, but that doesn’t mean balance is impossible. For me, the greatest challenge is telling ourselves its okay to take the time to sit and savor a meal. So often we feel like we’re wasting time, when it’s just the opposite. Let me know if you give it a shot. Would love to hear your thoughts!

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  3. Great pointers. I guess I’m lucky in that I do keep my phone or other electronic device off when I eat. Yeah I’m guilty of taking pics of my food but the camera goes away the minute I take that first bite. It is good to unplug & enjoy your food.

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    • I’m guilty of the food selfie on IG too, lol. Food is a work of art sometimes and we need to document that right? And I agree- actually enjoying the food we eat is just as important as the act itself. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. I need to be better about this. I like to eat while watching tv or a show on ym computer. I just get bored if I’m sitting there just eating. But I need to stop!! What has the world come to that we can’t eat without distractions anymore? ;)

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    • I hear you Patty. Trust me, it’s hard for me to shut everything down, especially because all of my work is online. We’ve all got short-attention spans these days! If you can, give it a shot at least a couple of days a week and keep an open mind to how you feel as you’re eating. It’s a worthy experiment. Thanks for your comments!

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  5. Great advice! My fiance and I actually have a rule that we’re not allowed to use any technology during dinner. Best rule we’ve ever created in our household!

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    • Love that! It’s unrealistic to get rid of our phones completely but I think establishing boundaries is essential so that we can fully enjoy those meaningful moments. Thanks for dropping by Katy!

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  6. Fabulous post! So many of us are guilty of this. I have to remind myself to chew more and really break down food before I swallow it or I just gobble it down!

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  7. krissyagar says:

    I’m really terrible at lunchtime! At dinner we have no distractions and enjoy our time as a family, but at lunch I’m usually trying to write or read and not paying any attention to what I’m eating. I need to start being more aware!

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  8. Great list! I love the comment about not using technology. That’s what we do too. I’m offended when other people use it while you eat with them. I think it’s common courtesy to put the phones down also! Stopping by from the #Sitsharefest! Have a great weekend!

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