Fitness Challenge Nutrition Tip #5: Eat Mindfully

Today we are going to discuss the importance of mindful eating. Mindful eating refers to eating in a calm, slow, deliberate way. In today’s busy world, many Americans often multitask by eating while they do other activities. How many times have we eaten on the run, while driving, while watching TV, while working, etc.?   Although we may think we are making good use of our time, this method of food consumption can actually work against us.  Here are four things that happen when we don’t eat mindfully:

  • When we eat while focusing on another activity, we tend to overeat.
  • When we’re not paying attention to what we’re eating we tend to make less healthy food choices.
  • When we’re not eating mindfully, we tend to eat too fast.
  • Finally, we miss out on the sheer enjoyment of our meal.

What exactly is mindful eating?  Believe it or not, you have practiced mindful eating plenty of times in the past. For example, have you ever been looking forward to a big slice of chocolate cake only to find out that there was only a small sliver left? You probably didn’t devour it in one quick bite. More likely, you ate it in small pieces and tried to enjoy every crumb. That’s mindful eating.

The bottom line is that when you eat mindfully, you will find yourself eating less and enjoying it more.

Here are some things you can do to practice more mindful eating:

  • Make sure that you have no distractions during your meals other than perhaps good conversation with friends and family.
  • When it’s time to eat, turn off the TV, put down the book, and step away from the computer.
  • Make a conscious effort to chew every bite more thoroughly. For example instead of chewing a bite 10 times, try chewing it 35 times. Thoroughly chewing your food increases your body’s ability to digest effectively and it also allows you to feel satiated sooner. When you eat too fast, the feeling of being full doesn’t kick in until after you’ve eaten way more than you probably should have. When you slow down the meal, you will feel fuller sooner.
  • And to maximize your mealtime enjoyment, make your environment as peaceful and attractive as possible. Clear the table of clutter, use tableware that looks and feels good. Make sure your food is presented in an attractive and pleasing way.

This tip’s challenge is to eat at least one meal a day mindfully from start to finish. It can be breakfast, lunch or dinner, whichever one works best for you but it has to be at least one time per day. With your other meals make sure you chew the first three bites in a slow mindful fashion. If you can do more, that’s great but at least get the first three bites.

Slow down the meal. Enjoy it. You’ll be glad you did.