You’ve heard it said a million times: you are what you eat. This timeless phrase is true—what you choose to nourish your body with has a tremendous impact your health. However, if this simple rule was the primary truth, why is it so difficult to maintain your optimal health and weight?
The answer lies in shifting your focus from what you’re eating to how you’re eating. The logic is that good eating habits and behaviors directly impact our food choices. In other words, how you eat will influence what you eat. This focus is commonly referred to as mindful eating—a breakthrough and hot topic in the fitness and wellness industry.
Researchers at the University of New Mexico studied 25 participants who were trained to eat mindfully, and the results showed a noticeable decline of depression, anxiety, and binge eating. It also linked mindful eating to weight loss, and even a significant decrease in the risk for cardio vascular disease. So how should you eat in order to get the benefits of mindful eating?
Here are three basics of mindful eating to help you build a solid foundation and future healthy habits:
1. Monitor Your Own Satisfaction
When you find yourself reaching for a snack, ask yourself two two questions: “what I am hungry for?” and “what do I feel like eating?” Be honest with yourself, and reflect. Take a deep breath and notice if your body is having any specific cravings. Are your energy levels low? Do you need food to replenish energy levels, or are you anxious, bored, or just simply ravenous? Take a moment to become more self-aware before you begin to eat. Once you begin to eat, tune into your levels of hunger, fullness, and satisfaction. This is called satisfaction monitoring. Satisfaction monitoring gives you a chance to listen to your body and honor what it is telling you. When you create this awareness, you will automatically begin to eat slower, digest better, and gain more enjoyment from your food—all this, plus you will ultimately eat reduced portions.
2. Eat Undistracted
When was the last time you ate a meal without watching TV or looking at your phone? In our modern, immediate response culture, eating an undistracted meal is a rarity. When your focus is outside of your food, the risk of overeating increases tremendously. Food is one of the most basic gifts of existence— partaking in distracted eating undermines food’s natural pleasure and satisfaction. To invite this natural pleasure and make you feel more satisfied, eat in a calm, joyful, and inviting environment. By making this your practice, you will find that it takes much less food to decide you’ve had “enough.”
3. Eat Slow—Think Deep Thoughts
Shifting your mind to a state of gratitude touches you on a cellular level. Practicing gratitude before meals has an immediate effect on our breathing patterns, pulse, blood pressure, hormone levels, and digestion. Take a few seconds to be thankful for the food in front of you and the process it took to get onto your plate. Acknowledge the brilliance of your body and all it does to support your existence. Doing this will immediately change your perception of food and its relationship with your body. Over time, your attitude towards food will be one of great reverence, which is the key to living your healthiest life.
Image: French Frosting
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