From Mindless Eating to Mindful Eating

Let’s face it, you’ve opened a family sized bag of chips while watching Netflix and next thing you know it’s all gone... What just happened? It can be all too easy to mindlessly munch away without truly enjoying the foods we are eating. It's time to stop, slow down, and practice some mindful eating.

Mindful eating is essentially being in tune with your body and the food that’s in front of you. Not surprisingly, being aware of your body’s signals, cravings and cues while eating can have a whole host of benefits for our health! It can increase awareness of what’s going in your body, help distinguish between stress hunger and physical hunger, and help you build a positive relationship with food.

As we dive deep into exam season (aka the most stressful season of the year), it’s easy to fall into the trap of stress eating and convenience foods. We’ve compiled a list of 7 tips to incorporate into your life for this week to help you practice mindful eating, and hopefully create some long term habits!

1. Slow down

When the food just that tasty it’s hard to slow down, but it actually takes 20 minutes for the stomach to send signals of fullness and to stop eating. By slowing down, we can get back in tune with our body’s fullness cues. Need some help? Try eating with your non-dominant hand, it might get a little messy, but it’s all part of the mindful experience!

2. Chew, chew, chew

This lines up with eating slowly, but can also help improve digestion overall. By chewing food thoroughly, we are helping our stomach and intestines break down food and access the important nutrients it’s offering us. Try putting down your utensils each time you chew; that way you won’t be tempted to reach for more food before you’ve swallowed what’s already in your mouth.

3. Re-size

Size IllusionSource: The Columbian

Did you know that plating size makes a big difference to the amount you pack into your plate? Try swapping out an oversized dinner plate with a lunch sized plate/bowl! With a smaller size dish, you’ll naturally start with smaller portions, and give your body a little more time to register hunger cues before reaching for seconds.

4. Unplug when you eat

Popcorn in the cinemas always disappear before the movie even starts, and that’s because when we’re distracted we don’t pay attention to our body’s signals to stop and slow down. Try turning off your TV and putting away your phone when eating! Yes, it might be boring but instead turn your attention to what you’re eating: how it tastes, how it smells, how it looks etc.

5. Swap it out

It’s normal to have a sweet tooth, but it’s easy for it to get out of hand especially during this time of year. While sweets and treats are totally okay in moderation, when you’ve got an insatiable craving try a nutritious swap! Check out our blog on Craving Swaps for the best alternatives to your most common food cravings.

6. Find a Friend

Eating with company is one of the best things we can do for our physical and mental health! Not only does carrying out a conversation naturally slow us down, but we tend to enjoy our food more and have more positive eating experiences when we share a meal with friends. Make a lunch & study date, or cook up a dinner with roommates for an easy way to stay mindful and catch up with friends.

7. The Ulitimate Tip: Eat what you love, and love what you eat.

Holistically, mindful eating comes right down to respecting your body, your cravings and your physical & emotional needs. When we choose to eat the foods that make us feel good mentally and physically, and truly take the time to enjoy those foods we are being mindful and respecting our health in a powerful way.

Friends Eating

If you have more questions about mindful eating or nutrition in general, contact our UW dietitian Nicole Pin!

Happy Eating!


Sources:

Bjarnnadottir MS., A. (June 2019). Mindful Eating 101. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-tips-to-stop-mindless-eating.

Petre, MS. RD (CA), A. (April 2019). 13 Science-Backed Tips to Stop Mindless Eating. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-tips-to-stop-mindless-eating.

Willard, C. (Jan 2019). 6 Ways to Practice Mindful Eating. Retrieved from https://www.mindful.org/6-ways-practice-mindful-eating/.

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