It’s not easy to be mindful about the food you eat all of the time. Life gets busy and meals happen at your desk, in the car, or they get skipped completely! But did you ever wonder what the consequences of mindless eating are? It’s wreaking havoc on your body and your health.
Mindless eating comes from being on autopilot, bad habits, stress, distraction, and lack of time. Here’s what that often looks like — and how to correct these behaviors to eat more mindfully.
1. Eating quickly and not chewing properly. Chewing is very important to the digestive process! Digestion
starts in your mouth, and when chewing isn’t done thoroughly, it can lead to a multitude of problems, including (but sadly not limited to) acid reflux, bloating, and gas.
Antidote: Slow down and chew. The enzymes in your mouth will start to break down food and prime the rest of your digestive tract for what is to come.
2. Overeating. Being distracted and eating beyond your limit can cause short-term issues such as fatigue, heartburn, bloating, and gas. Mindlessly overeating long-term can lead to more serious chronic health issues such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
Antidote: Tune into what you are doing. Remove the distractions (phone, TV, etc.) and ask your body what it needs.
3. Eating when stressed. When you are stressed, your body takes energy away from digestion and puts it towards whatever it’s stressing about (perceived or real). This slows the digestive process and can cause heartburn, diarrhea, or constipation, and even mess with your microbiome.
Antidote: Take a deep breath or five! Stress is a part of life and learning to manage stress is very important to your overall health.
4. Emotional eating. Whether fueled by boredom, anger, or sadness, it is all too easy to eat for reasons other than hunger. Emotional eating can lead to weight gain, poor food choices, sugar addiction, digestive distress, and more.
Antidote: Stop and ask yourself what you really need in the moment. Asking yourself what you are feeling and what you really want can help get to the root of emotional eating.
Let’s be realistic: we can’t be perfectly mindful all of the time! There are going to be rushed mornings and late-night dinners. But if you start to incorporate some mindful eating tips now, creating new habits, more meals can become more mindful.
Here are a few additional tips to easily incorporate mindful eating practices into your day:
- Take one deep breath before you eat and remind yourself to slow down.
- Put your fork down between bites.
- Take in your plate: see it, smell it, and appreciate what is in front of you.
- Play a chewing game: can you chew each bite 10 times? 20 times?
- Eat when you are hungry; stop when you are full.
- Find a chair and sit down.
Give it a try, one meal a day. Add in more when you can. How does your body feel? It might be happy with your new mindful habits.