Most humans eat more than their bodies require. Especially with the massive choice of culinary delights available, the eye appealing desserts, the way food is plated etc…it works on our minds to a level that we crave it. And that’s OK. Everyone loves good food too, who doesn’t.
The problem is, we eat too much of it and there reaches a point when the body does not know what to do with the crazy amounts of food we eat, so when you see your belly/tummy, mid riff, waist starting to expand, that’s your body telling you, ‘you are eating too much’.
What next? Fad Diets? Time and again it has been proved that fad diets don’t work. With a fad diet plan, you will lose weight –and gain it back eventually, and in between you may end up even damaging your metabolism, digestion and your wonderful relationship with food.
But then isn’t it true? that ‘Abs are made in the Kitchen’ and that ‘Weight Management is 70% nutrition’. Indeed it is! The hidden answer to this dilemma lies in – Mindful Eating.
Technical definition says, “Mindful eating is allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation by respecting your own inner wisdom”.
In easier terms- It is an art of staying aware of, not only-what you are eating, but also how you are eating. In this article, I’ll help you understand the broad prospects of nurturing yourself with the art of mindful eating. And to do so, let’s first understand the contradiction – Mindless eating.
You are eating mindless when you are-
1) Overeating (Unable to practice portion control) –
Over eating is the most common act of mindless eating and in my experience, 90% of the players who want to lose weight – overeat during one or the other meal.
Portion control is very important but why is practicing portion control so difficult? That’s because we miss recognizing the internal cues our body provides (and yes it does send those signals!) to make us stop eating when it’s time. And why does this happen? That’s because we fail to pay attention to the task we are doing, in this context it is – eating. Implementing simple habits like keeping away gadgets while eating, using smaller plates, and taking a deep breath before you start your meal, can help you to practice portion control effectively.
2) Eating Fast
This one doesn’t need an example. If you are a fast eater you know it. Eating at your best speed to win a 1 minute food challenge is entirely different than doing it every day for every meal. Eating fast can also lead to weight gain and metabolic disorders like insulin resistance and arthritis. Small discomforts such as teeth bites and ulcers in the mouth, dental cavities, and acne outbursts can also be traced back to the habit of eating fast. And you may be blaming your gassy gut to your food choices, but do ponder upon if it’s related to your speed of eating too. Ideally you must aim to finish every meal in 20 minutes. This is the time range for our fullness hormones-Leptin, Ghrelin and some neuropeptides-to reach our brain and signal the satiety centre to feel full and stop eating.
Tricks like taking an intermission break after every few bites, using your non dominant hand to eat, chewing every bite thoroughly (32 times is dramatic, I know, 20 will do), using chopsticks for a change and/or using baby forks/spoons to finish your meal, can help you learn the art of eating slow and mindfully.
3) Emotional Eating
Emotional eating is as simple as the term sounds – eating to fulfil an emotion and not the stomach. It is also termed as ‘Head hunger’. If your hunger feels sudden and urgent and you have a craving for only fries or sugary treats, you can’t stop yourself to eat and then feel guilty afterwards, it is Head hunger- caused by emotions like boredom, anger, frustration, anxiety etc.
On the other hand if you are ‘Stomach Hungry’ you will know it easily for it will come gradually and you can still postpone it. There will be a stomach growl and it will get satisfied with any food (yes even salads!) You won’t feel guilty even after eating it heartily. And best part is you’ll know when to stop when you are feeding your body (but cannot- when fuelling your emotions).
Staying mindful of your hunger triggers and enjoying the meals to nourish your system, rather than feelings, is important, as this can make or break your relationship with food. Emotional eating whereas can cultivate poor self-esteem, unwanted weight gain and the plethora of troubles related to Obesity. Overcoming emotional eating requires a good amount of practice, patience and discipline and some tricks like distraction through work to pass off the emotional storm.
Eating each and every food that you can lay your hands on, without making a choice is what I call as ‘Disconnecting’. That’s odd! This doesn’t correlate.
Let me explain- If you belong to a club excelling in eating each and every ‘thing’ without knowing what it can do to you, where it came from and without acknowledging the feelings it produce in you (whether good or bad) you are disconnected from your foods, your meals and your nourishment-the very thing which helps you run your day and which prevents you from sufferings and sicknesses.
Disconnecting is a very subtle mindless eating practice but has profound effect on your weight and most importantly on your vital organs and their metabolic functioning. (Like a seemingly harmless can of diet-coke can wreak havoc on your pancreas and production of Insulin!)
Moreover, as we age, the mindless habit of Disconnecting does rapid harm to our system, to the extent of jeopardizing our longevity!
Hence, it is extremely important to make the ‘connect’ with your food choices. Attempt to learn or acknowledge the ingredients of the dish you are eating, which food group it belongs to, combining it in ways you can enhance (or deplete) it’s nutritional quotient, and most importantly how you truly feel having it.
In this 5 part series on ‘Mindful Eating’, I will take you through all the aspects of Mindful eating. In the second part tomorrow I will talk about slowing down while eating, how helpful can it be and some tips to help you eat slowly.
In essence, food is meant to be enjoyed and to nourish you. Adding the seasoning of Mindful eating to it, will pique up your health and wellness quotient.
To be Continued…………………