Stress and Eating Mindfully
Guest Blog by Kay Loughrey, Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist, Sweet Life Wellness
When you've had a stressful day, one way to slow down and feel less stressed is to enjoy eating mindfully. In a fast-paced world, how can we pay attention to the process of eating and enjoy eating mindfully? After all, eating is one of life’s simple pleasures. Instead, it often seems quicker to eat while multi-tasking so we can get on to “more important things.” Then, we tend to overeat and gain weight. Why should we take the time to enjoy eating mindfully?
Mindfulness means paying attention the present moment. Mindfulness can help you make better food choices. Mindfulness can help you tune into whether you are hungry, decide whether, what and how much to eat, and stop overeating.
When we slow down and enjoy eating mindfully, it benefits us in three other ways. We take more pleasure in our food. We also tend to stop eating before we’re full, and can more easily lose extra weight.
Eating and the Brain
It takes the brain 15 minutes to register the food we’ve eaten and then signal satiety. When we eat quickly, our brain often doesn’t have enough time to tell us we’re almost full. Then we tend to overeat. Distracted eating can cause us to feel unsatisfied, overeat, and gain weight. This means there’s a biological reason to enjoy eating mindfully.
When Brad came to see me, he told me this: For the past three years he’d been trying unsuccessfully to lose 15 pounds. We did an assessment and learned that he was routinely putting too much food on his plate, eating quickly and mindlessly eating everything on his plate stopping to notice when he was full. We created a plan and he consistently implemented the plan that included slowing down his eating at dinner and putting less food on this plate. As a result of working with me he lost 15 pounds and was able to live the life he wanted to live.
Tune into the Sensory Pleasures of Unprocessed Foods:
Food is nature’s design for giving us pleasure and sustenance. Foods like fruits and vegetables are enticing because they are beautiful to see and luscious to eat. They also are reviving and life sustaining. Such foods are full of flavor, nutrients, and components that make our body vibrant and healthy.
Exercise: Enjoy Eating Mindfully
Embark on a mindfulness eating experience. Slow down and enjoy eating mindfully in as little as 15 minutes. Savor a meal as a small pleasure in life that can bring you joy, companionship, and a sense of timelessness. Take a moment to notice the color, texture, taste, and smell of each bite as you eat. Allow the experience to bring you a sense of calm and relaxation.
As you eat, allow yourself to pay attention to your hunger. Notice a gradual feeling of satisfaction and stop eating when no longer hungry. Notice whether it is easier or difficult to tell when you are full. Notice the moment you decided you’d had enough to eat.
You could also try out this technique with a single food by eating an apple, orange, or other food.
After this experience ask yourself these two questions:
Click here (https://www.sweetlifewellness.com/?p=8677) for our blog post on the related topic of Mindfulness and Eating Triggers. Also click here (https://www.sweetlifewellness.com/?p=8687) for our post on Mindfulness and Making Better Food Choices.
To your Joy and Health,
Kay Loughrey, RDN, LDN, MPH
Transformational Speaker, Breakthrough Coach
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