Today’s modern world imposes hectic lifestyles and busy schedules on people. Rushing through daily routines and tasks inevitably takes its toll on health.
It’s hard to resist this fast-paced rhythm of life, so many people turn to unhealthy habits, and fast-food is among the most frequent ones. No wonder that global obesity, diabetes, and heart disease rates are rising at an alarming speed.
Is there a cure for this pandemic of the new millennium?
Fortunately, yes, and it’s called mindful eating. This approach to eating has borrowed some of its principles from Buddhist teachings.
It essentially promotes the idea that it’s important to pay attention to the body’s hunger signals, and distinguish between physiological and emotional ones.
This healthy eating plan isn’t dieting. It’s being aware of the food you eat and getting to the bottom of your food cravings.
Take It Slow
This is the first step towards mindful eating. People usually tend to dig in and stuff their faces as if they were training for a competitive eating tournament.
Experts from Ohio State University claim that it’s best to chew each mouthful at least 30 times, while for softer foods 5-10 times is enough. This has several benefits.
Apart from being focused on what you eat and enjoying flavors and texture of the food, researchers say that slower chewing helps better absorption of healthy ingredients and reduces later snack intake.
Devouring your meal is also bad because you won’t notice when you’re full since it takes about 20 minutes for the brain to receive the satiation signal. In other words, slow and mindful eating will prevent excessive food intake.
Tune the TV Dinner Out
Eating dinner in front of the TV has become a regular routine for many people, especially for those who commute to work. There’s nothing they want more when they get home than to sit back in front of their TV with a plate of ready-to-eat food.
However, the TV, mobile devices, or magazines can be very distracting, which means that you won’t be able to think about your food during your meal. Dinners used to be a family time, when all members gathered around the table, slowly enjoyed their food, and talked about how they spent their day.
The quality and nutritional value of pre-cooked meals are highly questionable as they’re usually packed with carbohydrates and chemicals that improve their taste. Turn off all your electronic devices and have a wholesome, slow-cooked, healthy dinner with your family.
Three’s Not a Crowd
Mindless, random eating is also a bad habit. Grabbing a sandwich while you’re reading your newspaper, or nibbling on chips or cookies while you’re working, means that you don’t actually think about your food or how much you eat.
Every meal should be planned and scheduled. Instead of carrying your lunch around your flat or office, you should sit down at a table, put your food on a plate, and use a knife and a fork.
Try to make it a ritual. Inviting your friends and colleagues to join you will create a pleasant atmosphere of sharing, both the food and thoughts, and that way you won’t just gulp down your food without savoring it.
Stop Sugarcoating Your Problems
Emotional eating is one of the most common reactions of the human mind to stress and unpleasant emotions.
How many times have you ordered a burger and fries after a stressful day at work? Or resorted to a big bowl of ice cream after a fight with your partner?
Comfort food seemingly provides temporary stress relief, but it doesn’t solve the actual problem. There’s a big difference between physical and emotional hunger, and by learning to tell them apart you’ll be able to identify your emotional triggers.
Easier said than done, so if you’re struggling with this kind of behavior, maybe it would be a good idea to find an experienced wellness coach to show you the ropes.
Connect With Your Food
Mindful eating means reconnecting with your food. Farmers understand the whole food cycle as they’re aware where the food comes from.
Before you eat, take some time to meditate about that salad, lasagna, or ice cream in front of you. Try to think about who grew it, what processes it underwent, and how it got to your dining table.
If you have the opportunity, plant some vegetables, try baking some bread, or visiting your local farmers’ market.
Appreciating and respecting your food will give you a different perspective on things, and it will definitely change the way you perceive it.
Mindful eating can improve your health and overall well-being. Remember, you are what you eat, but how you eat is important too.
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