Often times we are so preoccupied with our busy schedules that we become completely unaware of what’s most important - our nutrition. Instead of being concerned with what to feed ourselves to benefit and heal our bodies, we search for what’s most convenient, or more often than not, what we crave. Kick this bad habit by mastering mindful eating with our 5 helpful tips:
- Develop your Self Awareness
- Be Present
- Eat Intuitively
- Practice Gratitude
- Master the Skill
Develop your Self Awareness
As we’ve evolved as a species, the choices of food have increased dramatically now that we have an overabundance of food choices. The larger concern is the increase in food that are high in sugars and fats, which rarely ever occur in nature. At one point in time, our species, once called ‘hunter-gatherers’ would set out with one purpose, to feed themselves and their families. Now we eat mindlessly, knowing whatever we may be craving at the moment is in our reach at any given time.
When we’re presented with a large variety of foods, we tend to eat more. This is describe as the Buffet Effect. This is similar to Thanksgiving and other holidays when there’s a large amount of variety of food. A large amount of good, tasty food also leads to an increased dopamine response in our brains - which leads to an increased reward response.
In 1965, the Annals of of the New York Academy of Sciences published the liquid food experiment study. The liquid food experiment examined the behavior of humans when palatable food was taken out of their diet. The study took two lean volunteers and two obese participants as volunteer subjects. The research involved a machine that dispensed liquid food through a straw at the press of a button. The participants were given access to the food and were allowed to consume as much of the liquid diet as they wanted, but no other food. While the food had all of the required nutritional value, there were no other cues we look for in food and was completely bland. Without direction, lean participants consumed their usual calorie intake and maintained their weight. The obese participants consumed less than 10 percent of their normal calorie intake just by obtaining food from the machine whenever hungry. One of the obese volunteers continued eating the bland food from the machine for about seventy days after the experiment and lost around seventy pounds. The researchers noted that the participants steadily lost weight without any complaints of hunger throughout the experiment.
This study shows just how important listening to your body is. When you can recognize the difference between craving food due to certain food cues your brain senses and when your body is telling you you need more food for energy, this is when you are eating intuitively.
When we are eating mindlessly, the food we are eating is often times taken for granted. While we live in a society that is constantly surrounded by a variety of foods at our disposal, the idea that others do not have the same opportunity can be easily overlooked.
Master the Skill
Preparing your own meals is another key to mastering mindful eating. When you prepare your own meals, you’re not only learning and building your skills in the kitchen, but you’re able to see first hand all the work put into nourishing your body. Ordering out is fun, but it can be challenging if you’re particular about what you want to eat. Making your food gives you a new perspective and allows you to appreciate your food and the time it took to prepare it.
Stop Eating Mindlessly
When we’re aware of our hunger and what it is we’re eating, it brings us back to the present and takes away the problem of eating mindlessly. The next time you sit down to eat a meal, increase your awareness and think about how you can nourish and heal your body. What are some of your favorite ways to bring yourself back to the present?