Research shows mindless eating also can lead to stress and anxiety.
How many times have you sat in front of the TV and either snacked or eaten a meal? For many, this is a daily practice — and an unhealthy one. Called “distracted” or “mindless” eating, it can cause you to overeat and prevents you from enjoying your food and the eating experience. Research shows mindless eating also can lead to stress and anxiety.
The opposite behavior is called “mindful” eating. It is the deliberate, nonjudgmental act of paying attention to the flavor, taste, texture and experience of eating. It’s about being present and content while you eat.
“Mindful eating is taking the time to consider what you want and what you need,” said Maji Koetter-Ali, dietitian. “This allows you to make a choice that you will be happy with, as well as eliminates guilt and prevents overeating.”
Using all of your senses to choose and prepare food helps you choose wisely in nourishing your body. This is different from dieting, which can make you feel deprived. Mindful eating also makes you more aware of your hunger and what satisfies your hunger. It guides your decisions on when to begin and stop eating.
“It takes your brain 20 minutes to receive signals from your stomach that you are full, regardless of how much you eat,” Koetter-Ali said. “Therefore, slow down and take your time when eating. If you are still hungry after 20 minutes, allow yourself to have another small portion.”
Try mindfulness at your next meal
- Assess your hunger on a scale of 1 to 10.
- Determine what you want and need. Are they the same thing?
- How do you want to feel when you are done eating?
- What foods do you have? Will they support your health and well-being?
- Consider where your food came from and everything it encountered to get to your plate.
- Describe the flavor, taste, smell and texture of each bite.
- Think about your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations as you eat.
The feel-good power of fruits and veggies
A 2014 study of 400 adults’ diets found that people reported greater feelings of well-being on days when they ate at least five servings of fruits and vegetables.