Mindful eating - The act of developing awareness of your experiences, physical cues, and feelings about food. Following a few simple steps towards mindful eating not only helps to heal your relationship to food but can also lead to massive improvements in your digestion.
Understanding Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is anything but a diet. It’s not so much about what you’re eating but the way in which you’re eating it. From salads to burgers, the idea behind mindful eating is that you tune into the experience and as a result tune into your body.
I’m going to assume that within the last few hours, you've probably eaten something. Now, I want to ask you if you can recall everything that you ate and the sensations around it. Struggling to remember? You’re not alone! That's the majority of the population which is why the root of mindful eating is to bring the mind into the moment of eating and to understand how foods work for you.
According to a 2011 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average American spends two-and-a-half hours a day eating, but more than half the time, they are doing something else, too. How many times have you finished off a sandwich rushing to your next meeting? How often are you scrolling social media and before you know it your lunch is finished and you can’t remember what you even ate? Or how many times have you watched your favorite Netflix series during dinner only to end up way too full?
This mindless eating may be contributing to the growing numbers of obesity. This can also lead to digestive issues which can then lead to a multitude of other health issues that are on the rise around the globe.
When you practice mindful eating, you tune into your eating patterns during shifts in your emotional moods, thought patterns, and varying hunger levels and cravings. You also begin to learn how different foods affect your energy levels and moods, which is what we cover in the Gut Happy Course.
How many of you are afraid to step away from the diet books because you fear binging on chocolate and pizzas?
There is the misconception that mindful and intuitive eating will lead to weight gain and nights spent binging ice create but quite the opposite actually tends to happen. When you bring your awareness into meal preparation and consumption, you tend to choose the foods that work for you.
You begin to crowd out the foods that you’d normally use for comfort and out of habit and you begin choosing those that make you feel energized and satisfied.
Although the ideal mindful-eating food choices are centered on whole, real foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils the technique can be applied to a cheeseburger and fries as well. By truly paying attention to the food you eat, you may indulge in these types of foods less often.
How The Use Mindful Eating to Improve Digestion
Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “you are what you eat”. That’s only partially true, the phrase should be “you are what you absorb”.
Stress and mindlessness play a major role in digestive issues and gut troubles. If you’re not paying attention to the foods that you’re eating or if you’re eating too quickly or in a high stress environment during mealtimes then your body cannot digest your food properly.
Digestion begins in the mind. Just by thinking about your food, your saliva glands begin to activate. This not only keeps the mouth and other parts of the digestive system moist but it creates amylase which helps break down carbohydrates.
Bringing mindfulness to your meals also helps to ensure that you are chewing your food enough. Doing so helps the body to absorb the food and keeps the gut lining strong. Remember, you are not what you eat you are what you absorb.
The final aspect of how mindful eating improves digestion is that it allows you to notice your trigger foods. Something we cover at length in Gut Happy is identifying which foods cause your body to have more energy and boost digestion and those that cause you to feel worn down and bloated. Eliminating these foods helps to boost your mental health and digestive well-being.
How To Mindfully Eat1. Begin with bringing awareness to your shopping list.
2. Eat when you’re hungry, but not too hungry.
3. Start with smaller portions. You can always go back for more.
4. Give gratitude. Pause for a minute or two before you begin eating to contemplate everything and everyone it took to bring the meal to your table..
5. Bring all your senses to the meal. What do you smell whilst cooking? What colors do you see? What sounds do you hear? What is the texture of the foods?
6. Take small bites and put your fork down between bites. As you chew your food, try identifying all the ingredients, especially seasonings.
7. Chew, chew, chew! This not only happens just from trying to identify the flavors but your digestion will LOVE you for it.
8. Eat slowly. This should be easy to do if you’ve followed all of these steps.
Do you practice mindful eating? Give these recipes a go! Trust me, you won’t want to miss their flavors.
Gut-Loving Chocolate Chip Cookies
Mindful Eating — Maintain a Healthy Weight & Appetite
8 steps to mindful eating