Food can be seen as the fuel for energy to keep our bodies active and healthy, or as a means for comfort. The former is a basic requirement, without which we could not survive. However, using food to settle emotions and help calm down anxiety and even depression, oftentimes leads to obesity and the feeling of disgust towards our bodies.
With television, computers and smartphones being the greatest form of entertainment and downtime among adults and kids alike, obesity is a big problem in our generation which in turn has a negative effect on our overall health. Sitting still for hours on end in front of a screen, encourages snacking and filling up on junk whilst purely concentrating on the what is being watched as opposed to what is being put into our mouths.
On the flip side, caring for our bodies is becoming more the rage, with superfoods and healthy eating being hot topics for discussion. However, how we eat tends to get little attention, but seems to play an equally large role in digestion and the effects food has on our body. Research suggests that changing our attitudes and practices around meals and mealtime rituals may be every bit as important as obsessing over what it is we actually put in our mouths.
Mindful eating is a healthier approach to eating. It not only focuses on what foods we eat, but on how our bodies feel. It allows us to pay attention to fullness and hunger, emotional connections to food and the relationships involved in eating. It focuses on positives, rather than food restrictions, counting calories and watching the scale for weight control. The goal of mindful eating, is to base our meals on physical cues, such as our bodies’ hunger signals, not emotional ones — like eating for comfort. In a study undertaken on 1,400 mindful eaters, it was found that these individuals had lower body weights, a greater sense of well-being, and fewer symptoms of eating disorders.
It is important to consciously think of food as a necessity for physical and emotional well-being, and in so doing it will help us focus on choosing the correct foods such as water over sugary drinks, filling our plates half full with fruit and vegetables and reducing our processed food intake, to name a few. Eating mindfully includes eating slowly – taking time to savor and enjoy your food is extremely beneficial. It will make you more aware of when you are full and not only will you get more enjoyment out of the flavors, but well chewed food is more easily digested. Try eating with chopsticks if you find eating slowly is a challenge for you.
Being mindful of what you eat can change your attitude towards food. Putting thought into what you put in your mouth and being aware of the taste and texture, can bring about a new appreciation, respect and, above all, enjoyment for food you eat every day.