Mindful eating – towards greater health and happiness
A popular trend in today’s culture, mindfulness refers to living in the present, moment by moment, and paying attention to our own inner processes as well as to the world surrounding us. This relaxed, increased awareness towards our thoughts, feelings and sensations, without judgment or trying to control them, has proven positive effects on health.(1) So take a moment to relax while reading this.
Practicing mindfulness has shown effects on our body, such as lowering blood pressure, reducing our overall arousal and emotional reactivity. Moreover, we feel better and thus happier, as our self-esteem increases and pain-related medicine use decreases.(2) The greater awareness that comes with mindfulness also reduces negative emotions, improves our vitality and our ability to treat and cope with stress. (3),(4)
What about mindful eating - can someone eat mindfully? Evidence exists that mindfulness eating programs help to prevent overeating and even reduce depressed feelings.(5) Besides, mindful eating has positive effects on weight changes, eating behavior and psychological stress on people with obesity problems. (6) So now that we know what mindfulness can do for us, what is mindful eating?
Eating mindfully means that there is no right or wrong way to eat, but simply we can become more aware of what we eat, and why. It’s not only about what we eat, but also how we eat. Mindful eating helps you recognize the difference between eating because you are hungry, or because you are sad or bored. By becoming aware of your body hunger signals, you can introduce a moment of choice between the urge to eat and actually eating. Next time you feel like eating, you have the chance of asking yourself, “Am I really hungry?”, and do something else instead if the answer is “no”. This will help you separate your body’s hunger signals from your mind’s emotional signals - which lead to eating for comfort.(7) Just remember, mindful eating only works if you tailor it to your own lifestyle.
So how does it work? Here are five tips on how to eat mindfully:
Whether you are suffering from an eating disorder, struggling with stressful life situations, following a strict diet required by a medical condition, or simply want to enjoy life more and be kinder to yourself, mindful eating compassionately offers a natural approach to greater health and happiness. Practicing non-judgmental awareness of our eating habits with full attention to what we experience helps us develop a healthier relationship to ourselves and leads to a natural desire to eat well.
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