Mindful Eating – credit: wellnesstoday.com
Let’s talk about how we eat
Think about your personal practices when you eat. Do you read, check your text messages, browse the web, or watch TV? I posted early this year on strategies for change in 2016 and most effective changes to consider for 2016. I noted in these that dietary change would produce the greatest body composition and wellness results in the shortest time, and as is typical I focused on changes in what you eat.
However, what if I told you that a simple change in how you eat rather than what you eat can reduce your caloric consumption virtually automatically. That is the gift of eating mindfully.
The benefits of Mindful Eating
You have likely heard by now that there is a delayed satiety response to food consumption. When you begin eating your body produces hormones and digestive enzymes in response. This continues as you eat, with hormone levels increasing as time passes, including both insulin and leptin. It is commonly recognized it takes about 20 minutes after you are satiated for you to feel full from the effect of the increased leptin in your brain receptors.
As you might imagine, if you are mindlessly chewing away while watching the tube you likely took in calories for a full twenty minutes after you did not need any additional food to satisfy your hunger. Result – over consumption of calories and feeling lousy from “being stuffed”.
When you eat mindfully, you concentrate only on the sensations and experience of eating the food, chewing each bite thoroughly before swallowing. This allows the hormones to keep up with the intake and means you will feel full much closer to the time when you actually are. You can build in a buffer as well and stop eating when you feel like you might be getting close to full, say about three quarters full.
Improved digestion is a likely side effect of mindful eating
Mindful eating implies slow eating. Digestion starts in the mouth while we chew. By chewing thoroughly before swallowing we have a more digested bolus of food entering the stomach and the amount of food being digested by the acid and digestive enzymes produced in the stomach and small intestine is more efficiently managed.
The end result is a smaller amount of food to digest and a better nutrition extraction from that food due to a more complete digestion as it moves through your digestive system. This additionally will lead to a more improved bacterial environment in your gut as well since there is less undigested food available for the “bad” bacteria to feed on.
The logistics and practice of Mindful Eating
Adda Bjarnadottir, MS, Licensed Nutritionist / Dietitian with a Master’s Degree in Nutrition, writing at authoritynutrition.com posted a very comprehensive guide to mindful eating titled “Mindful Eating 101 – A Beginner’s Guide”. I am linking to this below and encourage you to read it for the details on how to put this eating method into everyday practice.
I strongly encourage you to implement mindful eating – it will produce immediate benefits and is not that hard of a habit to cultivate. These are the things which we like to see – big return for small investments.
Here’s to really enjoying your next meal!