Ever wonder why you still feel hungry after gorging down a midday burger?
According to research, it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to realize your stomach is full. And, let’s be honest – most of us can consume quite a lot of food in 20 minutes. That excess intake can lead to unwanted bloating, weight gain and increased risk for developing chronic diseases.
Mindful eating practices help counter this naturally occurring communication delay between your brain and stomach, ensuring you eat only as much food as your body needs.
So, are you ready to learn about mindful eating? Read on to learn how to incorporate this proven dietary technique into your everyday life!
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating, also known as “intuitive eating,” is an approach to eating that encourages you to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. It’s the practice of tuning in to your body’s senses and listening to its natural signals. It teaches you to be aware of the food you’re eating and enjoy the experience, instead of treating it as a mindless task!
Mindful eating is often seen as the opposite of a diet. Instead of focusing on what not to eat, mindful eating teaches you how to eat, awareness training if you will. For optimal health benefits, mindful eating should be paired with a well-balanced diet. However, it can also be used as a standalone dietary technique, regardless of food choices.
Health Benefits of Mindful Eating
Promotes Weight Management
Mindful eating allows you to tune-in to your body’s natural hunger and fullness cues, ensuring you don’t eat too much or too little. The ability to recognize fullness can help with portion control, and in turn, reduces food intake to a level that is appropriate for your nutrition needs. As such, it’s an excellent tool for those trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
You’ve probably done it before. You overate, which caused you to become bloated and uncomfortable! Bloating and digestive upset are tell-tale signs that you ate more than your body can digest in one sitting. Mindful eating helps you know when to stop eating and avoid bloat-related belt-loosening.
Aids in Blood Glucose Control
Excessive caloric intake often comes in the form of highly processed and refined carbohydrates, which can cause spikes in blood sugar. Over time, continually elevated blood sugar levels can increase your risk of developing insulin resistance. Practice mindful eating as a preventative measure for diabetes and other blood sugar-related health issues.
Decreases Risk for Developing Certain Chronic Diseases
Excessive caloric intake can lead to weight gain, which can increase the risk of developing certain chronic diseases, such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and more. Mindful eating can help decrease your caloric intake and prevent you from overeating unhealthy foods.
Portion control via mindful eating can also have a positive impact on your wallet! Whether you put half of your meal in a take-home box after eating out or opt to avoid grabbing another serving from the dining room, not eating excess food is an easy way to budget.
How to Practice Mindful Eating
Distractions during mealtime can lead to mindless eating and post-meal snacking. To avoid this common pitfall, turn off the TV and set down your phone to place your full attention on your meal. Focus on the taste and texture of your food, so you enjoy the meal to the fullest!
Make Mealtime 20 Minutes
It takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to send the satiety hormone to your brain to signal that you are full. Eating slowly and making meals last for 20 minutes or more makes it easier to recognize when your body is full. Here are some tips to help stretch out mealtime:
- Chew slowly and thoroughly. This may be difficult and awkward at first, but it gets easier with practice. Start by chewing each bite of food for 10 seconds and gradually increase the amount of time spent chewing. Not only will this help make meals last longer, but it will also help with proper digestion!
- Set down your utensils between bites. We often prepare for our next bite of food before we even finish chewing! Try putting your silverware down after every bite and savor the food you’re currently eating.
- Drink water throughout each meal. Sipping on water throughout your meal helps to create a greater sense of fullness. This tried-and-true dietary practice can help prevent overeating!
Ditch the ‘Finish Your Plate’ Mentality
Parents often tell their children to finish everything on their plate before they can be excused from the dinner table. While useful for children, adults should say goodbye to this mentality! Instead of finishing everything on your plate, consider storing the rest as leftovers. The food won’t go to waste, and you won’t be overstuffing yourself!
Stay Properly Hydrated
Dehydration can often be mistaken for hunger. If you feel hungry, first consider how much water you’ve consumed that day. Then, try drinking a glass of water to see if your hunger subsides. Men should drink at least 15 cups of water per day, and women should drink at least 11 cups of water per day.