Mindless or Mindful Eating: What are you doing?
Have you ever thought about what it means to eat mindfully? For many people, eating involves watching television, talking on the phone, or working on the computer. Before you know it you’ve finished watching your show and noticed you have also eaten the entire bag of chips you were snacking on. Or maybe you are out to eat with a group of friends at a new restaurant and are chatting away about all the new happenings in your life and by the time the check comes you realize you are uncomfortably full and suddenly feel tired and sluggish. This type of eating is what we call mindless eating. You are using distraction to block out your hunger and fullness ques your body is giving you. Often we do this without even thinking.
Mindful eating is checking in with yourself before you eat to see where you are in terms of hunger and fullness. This will allow you to think about how much food your body needs to be fueled to satisfaction. Mindful eating means checking in while you are eating to see where your satisfaction level is at. This allows you to know when you’ve had enough and also when your body needs more. When you are done eating you should feel satisfied and feel that you won’t be hungry again in an hour but would feel hungry in around three hours during the day and then at night feel full enough to get you through the night sleeping.
Mindful eating also means paying attention to how certain foods make you feel after eating them. Try to fuel your body with more foods that help you feel energized and less foods that make you feel sluggish. Foods that will help you feel good after eating them will likely be fruits and vegetables. Our body feels happy after eating these because they provide many vitamins and minerals that are essential for the body to run properly.
There may be times when you are eating and you’re not sure if you have had enough or not. It can take some time for your body to process the food you are eating, so if you are unsure where you are in terms of hunger and fullness, wait 15 minutes and see if you still feel hungry and if your body is telling you it is satisfied.
Sometimes we have cravings for foods. Cravings can come from a variety of things but often can come from stress. When you are in a time of stress and are craving a certain food, think to yourself if eating that food will make you feel better or if something else like going for a run or venting to a friend would make you feel better. If you feel the food craving is really what you want, go ahead and eat it! But remember to eat it mindfully by listening to your hunger and fullness ques. Try to not let a stressful emotion turn into an over indulgence of food. Think about what will truly make you feel better and trust what your body is telling you to do.
The next time you sit down for a snack or a meal, challenge yourself to see if you are using mindless eating or mindful eating. Listen to watch your body is telling you and this will help you fuel your body with the proper amount of food you need.