Experiencing blissful moments of complete awareness, like the feel of fresh breeze on your skin or the soothing bird chirping sounds can be therapeutic. These are the moments when we are completely mindful or aware of what's happening in our surroundings rather than being slave of the unending mind chatter. Mindfulness is important while eating too, and the recipient of its health benefits are both body and mind. Eating mindfully reduces our stress level, helps us digest food better, limit calorie intake and reduce weight. Mindfully controlling portions and making better food choices make us healthy in long run. Just like connecting with inner self is the need of the hour, making a connection with food while cooking and eating is equally important.
What is Mindful Eating and Why Is it important
When you eat mindfully, you are paying attention to every morsel, not multi-tasking, and not indulging in needless thinking. You also observe how your body and mind are reacting to the food. Ideally, eating in silence while staying away from any external source of noise or interruption maximizes the benefits of mindful eating. Not just eating, cooking mindfully is equally important for a healthy body and mind. “It is not merely about enjoying taste and smell of the food, it’s about thinking about the healthy benefits of the food from the point of cooking (preparation of food) till its processing in your body,” says Rita Mahapatra, Dietitian, Nutritionist, PCOS , Thyroid & Weight Loss Expert.
What Happens When We Do Not Practice Mindful Eating
We are not eating mindfully when we are looking at our computer screen or watching TV for instance. It is possible that we are not paying any attention to the portion of food we are having and the chewing process. When we pick up a snack to satiate our hunger, we are not making a mindful choice for eating. If we delay our meal time and give priority to some other task, we are not paying attention to our body cues and may overeat later.
According to Mahapatra, here’s what happens when we are not making mindful eating choices:
- If you are not eating mindfully, the whole process of digestion won't be smooth and you will experience health issues like indigestion, constipation, bloating, acidity etc.
- If you are not watchful of what you eat, there will be nutrient imbalance in your body and you may be at risk of getting many lifestyle diseases.
- You make incorrect food choices on the table if you are multi-tasking, attending online meeting or watching TV.
- Good food lifts mood but not when you are eating it unmindfully. You must enjoy food to feel good.
- If you are not eating mindfully you will not able to distinguish between true hunger and non-hunger triggers for eating.
- Not mindfully eating means no control over portion size of food. Either you end up eating more or less. Binge-eating or emotional eating are some of disorders that have surfaced because of this only.
Health Benefits Of Eating Mindfully
Not to mention there are numerous health benefits of eating mindfully, according to Mahapatra
- First of all your gut will thank you for taking care of it. When you eat slowly you connect better with the food and you can easily find what is good for your body and what is not.
- When you eat mindfully, you become conscious of your emotional triggers that lead you to eat unhealthy food.
- Eating mindfully improves your gut health and if your gut is healthy then you will be able to keep many of the diseases at bay.
- You lose weight because you limit your calorie intake and also feel fuller after your meals.
- You feel completely relaxed and your mental health improves
- Feel good hormones are released when you feel relaxed and anger, stress, anxiety can be managed easily.
Why Mindful Eating Makes Sense More Than Ever Before
With rising levels of stress, it is important to enjoy small pleasures in life for maximizing joy. Being in the moment while eating or otherwise improves mental health and one can avoid various health problems. Staying relaxed also strengthens immunity which helps us fight many diseases.
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