Mindful Eating 101
Mindful eating represents your stance on food. Appreciating the various tastes and combinations it took to make that dish, to more internal emotions such as gratitude, and your final thoughts right before and after eating it. Mindful eating is not only about your relationship with food, but rather the enjoyment of it. Why do we eat? If it's only for sustenance, healthy eating habits should not be a problem, right? But, as we know, people are not that one-sided. No matter how hard we try to eat with purpose, we all gravitate towards the comfort food we love so much. Our favorite foods that we know aren't the best, albeit, candy, medium rare steaks, and everything in between. As the adage goes, "eat in moderation". But, should we really eat comfort foods that way? Well, why not? Just be aware of what you eat and appreciate every bite since you probably don't want to indulge on it too often.
Eating mindfully means eating slowly, understanding your food choices, and your physical / emotional states. Try thinking of a time when you probably shouldn't have eaten that last piece of bratwurst or should have stayed away from that gallon of ice cream. Sometimes, the best intentions fall through the cracks of our emotional state. If that is the case, this rule of thumb might be very useful. I'm referring to HALT. Whenever you feel a craving, ask yourself if you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. It could be as simple as boredom. Sometimes it's just that easy to hold off on that craving when you label it, identifying what is causing this type of distress. But, we might call this emotional eating, or simply, a blanket term that we refer to as an eating disorder. No one likes being labeled as such, and it has its polar extremes, so it shouldn't be called something so generic.
Why should you try mindful eating?
Put simply, mindful eating allows one to recognize physical hunger vs HALT or boredom. It allows your body to distinguish between emotional and true hunger. Put into a real world situation, our daily lives are fraught with constant decisions, from what to wear in the morning, and what to eat for lunch. Some of these decisions can be obvious, but others can become more of an act of convenience rather than what you really want or need. It's called decision fatigue, the more you make decisions overtime, it can strain your mental fortitude and eventually negatively affect your decision-making abilities throughout the day. In simple terms, the law of diminishing return comes into play.
I digress a bit, but the overarching idea is straight forward. The process is to have potential mechanisms that will guide you through your journey of your relationship with food. We are trying to minimize mindless eating habits. This can allow you to get back to a healthy weight.
By no means does that mean that you should only eat healthy foods, but rather be intentional about what you eat. The healthy lifestyle might just come in time in the process. Intuitive eating is not a foreign concept with mindful eating practices, which simply means eating what your body wants. For example, if you're thinking of going out to dinner tonight, would you rather eat at home, or somewhere else? The answer may depend on where you live, your budget, and whether you like to dine out. You can also choose to eat at home, but then again, the work it takes to prepare and clean up might not be your cup of tea. So, maybe you'd rather eat at a restaurant. As you grow as a person, your relationship to food will evolve more or less, adjusting to your preferences.
How to practice mindful eating
You might find a lot of potential starting points, but I would say that the Harvard Health Publishing has a good baseline regarding beginning your journey in mindful eating practices.
- Start a Shopping List: Think about the health value of every product, and stay away from the processed foods areas. This extends beyond eating, it can also save you money. Avoiding impulse buying when you're shopping.
- Have an Appetite, BUT Don't Be Hungry: The key is to enjoy your food, and eat slowly so that your brain can have the time to process your food intake. If you eat too fast and in quantity, the brain has less time to tell you that it's enough.
- Start With Small Portions: To help you eat less and slower, it might be best to have a smaller plate. The madness in this is, it allows your brain to think that it looks like a lot of food. In addition, it will allow your brain to process the intake.
- Gratitude: Similar to prayer before a meal, just let everything sink in. The color, smell, texture, and the people at the table. Live in the present. As you chew your food, try identifying all the ingredients, especially seasonings.
- Take Small Bites: This will allow you to taste the food better with all your taste buds. Pro-tip, place your utensils on the plate or bowl in between bites.
- Chew Completely: This will help digestion, and it allows one to eat slower in the process. The beauty of this is that you'll most likely realize how little you really chew your food. Usually, chewing 20 to 40 times will be sufficient.
- Eat Slowly: While, all the steps above have led to this, it might not be bad to emphasize it.
Using some or even all that you've read so far will bring you closer to the world of mindful eating habits. But most of all, hopefully it will give you a joyful relationship with eating and eating the right foods. Health matters to us at Novacrisp, so we encourage you to try some of our delectable air - popped crisps.