Words by Dwight Hill
Dieting trends come and go faster than a milly rock in a room full of rubber bouncy balls. If you’ve been paying attention to the world of nutrition, you might have seen one fairly recent idea—mindful eating—gaining steam. And whether you’re being mindful about hair, skin, physical activity, or food, it’s all similar in that it’s all about being aware of yourself, the cause-and-effect of your immediate environment, and practicing patience.
References to mindful eating can be found in Psychology Today going as far back as 2009, and even today, nearly a decade later, it has its fair share of proponents. So, what’s all the hype about? Does it mean that we’re good to go HAM on whatever food our hearts desire, as long as we eat slower? Nah – not quite, fellas.
It’s All About Attention and Awareness
To the uninitiated, mindful eating might just seem like chewing your food very slowly, and yeah, that’s a small part of the equation, according to Harvard Health:
“A small yet growing body of research suggests that a slower, more thoughtful way of eating could help with weight problems and maybe steer some people away from processed food and other less-healthful choices.”
And yet, even this is a bit of an oversimplification as mindful eating is more about taking a thoughtful approach to meals — paying attention to what you’re eating and how it makes you feel, while also removing distractions from your environment (this is one we’re all guilty of).
It might, at first, seem like a whole lot of extra work with no payoff, but as Harvard Health further explains, slowing down and chilling out during your meals can provide some with a powerful defense against constant overeating:
“Digestion involves a complex series of hormonal signals between the gut and the nervous system, and it seems to take about 20 minutes for the brain to register satiety (fullness). If someone eats too quickly, satiety may occur after overeating instead of putting a stop to it. There’s also reason to believe that eating while we’re distracted by activities like driving or typing may slow down or stop digestion in a manner similar to how the “fight or flight” response does.”
So, in the process of pumping your brakes during mealtime and staying in the zone, you can better ensure that you eat to the point of being sated without overconsumption, make use of more of the nutritive value of what you’re eating, and finish your meal feeling a bit healthier and happier than you would otherwise.
Think of it like this – since it takes 20 minutes for your brain to recognize that you’re full, eating too fast can make you overeat much more easily. Mindful eating and taking your time allows your brain to catch up with your stomach and gives you the proper signals of how full you really are.
The Daily Regimen
You already know that the Bevel way of life is steeped in routine. If you think mindful eating might be the move, you should start by pulling a Marie Kondo and tidy/overhaul everything you’re eating. When you’re putting together that shopping list, think about the health value of what you’re including, then gear your choices toward the healthier end of the spectrum where possible (avoid empty calories, or anything that isn’t gonna check off those healthy nutritional checkboxes).
When it comes down to mealtime, be more aware of your hunger level, and avoid getting to the level where you’d scarf down any and everything in a five minute span (this will help you exercise more control while eating). Consider eating smaller portions, and as you’re chewing and swallowing, be sure to take your time.
You should stay mindful of all your senses — what you see, taste, hear, and smell — and take the time to appreciate your food and chew fully before moving onto the next bite. It’s not a hard thing to start working into your daily routine, so if you want to learn more about the benefits of mindfulness and how to do it right, be sure to read Mindful Magazine’s great feature on 6 Ways to Practice Mindful Eating, then make note of the positive effects as you start to make changes to your eating habits.