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Mindful eating: benefits and tips.

Fitness and nutrition · Oct 13, 2021

Mindfulness is a concept that has helped many people live more intentionally and learn the skills needed to manage chronic pain, depression, anxiety, sleeping difficulties and a variety of other health problems.1 It has also developed into an approach to eating that contributes to better health.

What is mindful eating?

The intent of mindful eating is to teach people to focus on the act of eating—to notice the colours, flavours, smells and textures of the food.2 It means not mindlessly consuming food while working, driving, reading, watching TV or playing with electronic devices.3

Mindful eating involves paying attention to:4

  • what you eat

  • why you eat

  • when you eat

  • how you eat

  • where you eat

  • how much you eat

Mindful eating can help you make healthier food choices and understand how your habits and emotions affect your eating habits.4

How to achieve mindful eating

Here are some tips to help you start on your path to mindful eating.

  1. Start by making a shopping list. Consider the health value of every item you add to your list. Focus on fruits and vegetables and other healthy options. Avoid junk food and highly processed foods. While you’re shopping, stick to the items on your list and avoid impulse purchases.3

  2. Monitor your hunger. Eat when you get hungry, but don’t wait until you are ravenously hungry, or you may be tempted to overeat.3

  3. Start with small portions. If you put a lot of food on your plate, you may be tempted to continue eating after you are full. Eating off a small plate—no more than 23 cm (9 inches) across—may help you control portion sizes.3

  4. Think about the food you are going to eat. Pause for a few moments before you start eating to consider all the people and effort that it took to get the food to your plate.3,5

  5. Engage all of your senses. Pay attention to the colour, texture, and aroma of the foods as you prepare and eat them.5

  6. Take small bites and chew thoroughly to savour all the flavour the food has to offer.5 Some foods must be chewed 20 to 40 times to release all the flavour.3

  7. Eat slowly. Focus on the food and don’t bolt it down. Devote at least five minutes to mindful eating before engaging in conversation with your tablemates.3

Benefits of mindful eating

Mindful eating can help you:4

  • make healthier food choices

  • be more conscious of your eating habits

  • gain a better understanding of how your eating relates to your feelings, thoughts, emotions and behaviours

Research has shown that mindful eating can lead to healthy choices that can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, support a healthy body image and make eating experiences more enjoyable.5


References:

1. Nelson JB. Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat. Diabetes Spectrum. 2017 Aug; 30(3): 171-174. Available online at  https://spectrum.diabetesjournals.org/content/30/3/171

2. Mindful Eating. Harvard Health Publishing. Feb. 01, 2011.  Available online at https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/mindful-eating

3. 8 steps to mindful eating. Harvard Health Publishing. Jan. 16, 2016. Available online at https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/8-steps-to-mindful-eating

4. Benefits of being mindful of your eating habits. Health Canada. Available online at https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/healthy-eating-recommendations/be-mindful-of-your-eating-habits/

5. Mindful eating. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Available online at https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/mindful-eating/

Authored by:
Care Centres Team
TELUS Health Care Centres

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