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Mindful Eating: A Key Step Towards Better Health

Mindful Eating A Key Step Towards Better Health
Some of the most common causes of diseases and conditions such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are directly related to lifestyle and the way we view food and its role in our lives. As stated by the American Psychological Association, the majority of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese, and many engage in unhealthy eating behaviors because they are stressed. Mindful eating - a means of paying attention to what and when we are eating, without judgment - is an approach that can be highly beneficial in terms of stopping stress eating in its tracks. By listening to the body, understanding the effect food has on us, and considering where food comes from, we can build a healthier relationship with food and simultaneously avoid the many consequences that arise from mindless eating.

Does Science Back The Value Of Mindful Eating?

The answer to this question is an affirmative ‘yes’. In one study by University of California researchers, it was found that stress reduction and mindful eating helped overweight participants prevent weight gain, even without dieting. The aim of the study was to help “cultivate people's ability to pay attention to their sensations of hunger, fullness and taste satisfaction as a guide for limiting how much they eat.” Another study by scientists at Ohio State University showed that consuming food in response to physical cues of hunger and fullness (i.e. eating mindfully) effectively reduced weight and blood glucose levels in adults with Type 2 diabetes. In fact, doing so was just as effective as following nutritional guidelines.

Mindful Eating Is About More Than Paying Heed To Physical Cues

For those who truly value the essence of mindfulness, mindful eating is not only about hunger and satiety, but also being aware of where your food comes from. As stated by Harvard academics, the basic tenets of mindful eating include selecting healthy foods (i.e. organic, plant-based, non-processed foods, and those which are low in refined sugars and salt), honoring the source and preparer of your meals, and enjoying modest portions. There are many tips you can use to ensure you are consuming sustainably sourced, organic foods (which contain higher antioxidant levels than conventionally grown foods). These include shopping mindfully and in advance, and extend to ordering healthy home delivered food as opposed to fast food. If you enjoy ordering in, then making sustainable meal kit choices can help you see healthy food as a treat. Opt for organic, plant-based, raw, or healthy Keto or Paleo deliveries when you can. These meals will be appropriately sized, but also prepared with nutritional and health values in mind.

The Act Of Eating Mindfully

Whether you prepare your meal, you enjoy it at a restaurant, or you have it home delivered, try to honor the practices of mindful eating. Take small bites and chew, engaging all your senses in the experience. Take note of the colors of the food, the sound they make, their delicious aromas, and their tastes and textures, and enjoy the knowledge that you are doing your health and wellness the world of good. Eating slowly will also help you avoid overeating, since it will help you realize when you feel satisfied. Aim to eat until you are about 80% full. You should also try to consume meals at the same time every day so you feel hungry at regular times and don't feel the inclination to consume unhealthy snacks.

Mindful eating has been found to help reduce the negative effects of stress eating. Its tenets include eating until you are about 80% full, enjoying all the sensations of eating, and being mindful about where food is sourced and how it is prepared. You can take part in mindful eating alone or in the company of friends, choosing healthy foods such as plant-based foods, which are known to boost gut health and, therefore, to improve your physical and mental health.
Written by Ali Barclay
Working as a writer now gives Ali Barclay much more freedom than in her previous career in Environmental Health—which she loved, but found very stressful. She took a step back when she became a mom and decided she'd invest the time in teaching her children the joys of eco friendly and sustainable living and making a difference at home."
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