Oh yes, I know, eating with your brain sounds like an impossible thing to do. But what if I tell that you can actually do it?
If I ask you what you need in order to eat, your answer probably would be a mouth, teeth, and stomach. Yes, that’s acceptable, we all need those to enjoy a meal, but is that it?
No, because we also eat with our brain, and that’s what we call mindful eating.
Let me share with you how it works. Mindful eating happens when we use all of our five senses while drinking and eating. Eating is not only about satisfying our appetite, it should be an experience, just like any other life experience, such as a holiday trip or a party.
What do you do when you’re living a nice experience? You pay attention to what’s happening around you. That’s exactly what we do when we practice mindful eating. We are present in the moment and listen to our thoughts and emotions before and after we finish our meal.
You may think this is a hard habit to learn, and yes, our eating habits are very well-ingrained—because eating is something we do every day—but a gradual change and persistent attitude will let us succeed in our goal.
Mindful eating is all about changing our relationship with food. We live the experience of eating more intensely and enjoy the full pleasure of food. Once we stop eating on auto-pilot, we’ll be able to enjoy our meal more and feel full sooner without overeating. If you are trying to lose a few pounds, this method may be a convenient option also.
When we practice mindful eating, we are not only eating with our mouth, teeth, and stomach, but also with our brain. If we take enough time to visualize our food and feel its flavor, we could prevent several unhealthy habits, such as overeating, “emotional eating,” “stress eating,” and “mindless eating.”
Mindful eating is not about food restriction or dieting, and it has been practiced for hundreds of years! It’s not anything like a diet or a simple fad. Eating doesn’t need to take too long when you eat mindfully either. Even if you can eat mindfully for one minute a day, you are doing something to improve your eating habits and change your life!
Here are 10 benefits of practicing mindful eating:
1. Mindful eating helps us change old habits.
The power of choice. We can only make new choices when we have awareness.
2. Improve our ability to work with emotions.
Food is often used to avoid emotions. Mindfulness, in general, increases emotional regulation!
Become aware of the fact that there is a choice between feeling an emotion and doing something (like eating).
3. Become more trusting of ourselves.
In the past, you may not have been able to trust yourself around food. Begin to trust in your ability to make the right decisions.
4. Manage our weight.
Mindful eating slows weight gain and may promote weight loss!
5. Better mood and more energy.
Being overly full makes us feel fatigued and in a bad mood. When mindfully eating, you no longer are a slave to this yo-yoing of mood and energy.
6. Improves brain power.
Mindlessly eating junk food can result in “brain fog.” Mindful eating encourages us to eat what our body actually needs, which may clear thinking, improve memory, and increase focus.
7. Find the source of our food issues.
Trying to lose weight is treating a symptom and not the actual problem. Dealing with the way we eat and our relationship with food is the most important part of dealing with food issues.
8. Increase generosity.
When eating mindfully, you may not be greedy for that extra helping or hide the last of the ice cream deep in the freezer so it’s there for you later.
9. Actually enjoying our food.
Mindful eating is all about learning to fully experience and enjoy our food. When we enjoy our food, we don’t need to “double duty” with the television or the computer because our food is so interesting.
10. Fast eating has been linked to weight gain.
Eating too quickly, may also contribute to type 2 diabetes. By slowing down our eating, we change this habit.
Want to learn how to implement mindful eating? Check out the bio below for more info.
Author: Andrea Caprio
Image: Yoel Ben-Avraham/Flickr
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Emily Bartran
Social Editor: Erin Lawson