“You may be familiar with the term ‘mindfulness’, but are you aware of mindful eating? Mindful eating uses the act of mindfulness, or being present or paying attention to an eating experience with all of our senses (seeing, tasting, hearing, smelling, feeling) to help us overcome eating problems in our increasingly busy lives. It is not a diet. It is focused on developing a new mindset around food.
When stress strikes, the body releases the hormones cortisol and insulin which can ramp up hunger and cravings for unhealthy foods. If the stressful event continues, those hormones remain elevated, increasing levels of another hormone called leptin, which helps your body to recognize when it’s full. These hormonal changes can raise your risk for a condition called leptin resistance. When we “stress-eat,” we eat quickly without noticing what or how much we’re eating, which can lead to weight gain. All foods are good for stress levels. In fact, some foods (or too many of them) may actually make matters worse. Knowing what to put on your plate is important and knowing how to eat stress-free.
Mindful eating practices counteract stress by encouraging deep breaths, making thoughtful food choices, focusing attention on the meal, and chewing food slowly and thoroughly. This increases the enjoyment of the meal and improves digestion. Mindful eating can also help us realize when we are eating not because of physiological hunger but because of psychological turbulence, which may lead us to eat more as a coping mechanism.
Practising more mindful eating can enhance the enjoyment of your meals, reduce overeating and stress, aid good digestion, reduce anxious thoughts surrounding food, and improve your psychological relationship with food.
Here are a few tips to help you practice mindful eating which can lower your stress levels.
1. Give priority to mealtimes – try to take at least 15min to sit down and enjoy your meal.
2. Avoid distractions while eating (with the exception of dining company). It is impossible to truly enjoy eating (or food) while our attention is elsewhere. Try putting your phone away and do not eat near a TV, but rather sit with yourself or with good company and enjoy the meal and experience.
3. Avoid stress eating- Stress eating isn’t just making you grumpier — it may also be making you fat and sick.
4. Avoid being rushed around mealtimes; schedule time to eat your meal when you have adequate time and are unlikely to be interrupted.
5. Always sit down for a meal. Try to avoid eating standing up or in front of the fridge.
6. Rest your cutlery next to your palate between mouthfuls and make a conscious effort to chew your food thoroughly.
7. Eat only until you are 80% full (meaning you are satisfied but not overly full).
8. Take time to truly savour and taste your food. Use your senses! Before eating take note of the look, smell, and overall appeal of the meal you are about to eat.
9. Prepare your own meals where possible. The act of preparing food – touching, tasting, and smelling – may improve your psychological relationship with food.”
(With inputs from Nikita Oswal, Chief Nutritionist Fat2fitcurves.co.in)