Mindful Eating shows first hand the links between Mindfulness and Nutrition.
Firstly, why is mindful eating important?
Over 24 studies show distracted eating is no different to distracted driving (Robinson et al., 2013)
- Distracted eating diminishes your sensory perceptions (e.g. the crunch of lettuce, the scent of cinnamon on your porridge, the temperature of a food)
- It diminishes enjoyment and affects estimates of hunger and fullness
- It increases overconsumption during the current meal and next meal
Additionally, distracted eating often doesn’t allow us to chew our food. Chewing plays a vital role in digestion and hunger. Chewing more reduces the levels of gut hormones related to hunger and improves overall satiety:
- Chewing enhances the nutritional benefits of the food you eat: “Particle size affects the bioaccessibility of the energy of the food that is being consumed. The more you chew, the less is lost and more is retained in the body.”
- Ultimately, studies show people who eat slowly tend to eat less, yet still have same satisfaction if not more from food.
The truth is, our awareness comes and goes, we get stressed, busy, upset, and we switch to auto pilot. When we perform an activity in a mindful way we get more out of it.
A recent review found that 85% of mindfulness interventions resulted in improvements in eating behaviours (O’Reilly et al., 2014). Mindfulness supports your healthy eating goals as:
- You learn to eat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re full.
- People often realise that unhealthy food isn’t as nice as they thought and are more tuned in to how it negatively effects their mood and energy.
- If you are someone that feels that they are an emotional/social eater – practicing mindfulness is vital as it can help you tune in to your emotions and enhance positive coping responses outside of relying on food.
Cultivating mindfulness can help you become more in tune with your body, understand and attend to the differences between physiological and non-physiological hunger and help you get more pleasure from the food you eat. Mindfulness is deliberately paying attention, being fully aware of what is happening both inside and outside yourself and in your wider environment.