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Integrating Mindfulness Into Eating Behaviors
Sneha Kishore

Integrating Mindfulness Into Eating Behaviors

Why do we eat? Is it because we are bored, stressed, tired, happy, sad, to be healthy, because it’s tasty? These are just a few factors that influence why we eat. I know that when I was at work and stressed, I would succumb to “stress eating” as I termed it. I didn’t listen to hunger cues but rather emotional cues.

What if we could listen to our internal voice and eat when it said, “you need energy, please get some nutrition.” Well that would be great, obesity and food related chronic diseases would never exist! In the real world, however, there are many factors other than our internal cues of hunger and satiety that play a role.

How can we listen for these cues? For one we can eat slowly, chewing and savoring the food in front of us allows us to process the food physically and emotionally. It also helps trigger out satiety center when we are full to stop eating.

Eating without distractions such as TV, phones, tablets etc. This allows us to focus on the food we consume as well as connect with the people we are with.

What we consume is an important factor as well. Consuming high calorie, low nutrient density food leaves our body wanting more, a lot more. A meal filled with high nutrient density and rich in fiber leaves us satiated, giving our body the cue that it is full.

Being mindful of what we are eating and why we are eating it can be a powerful tool to prevent overeating. It can also be liberating since there is not set rule to follow per se. This is called intuitive eating.

Intuitive eating can help to disentangle the preoccupation with weight and focus more on a positive relationship with food. It can also be flexible. Every meal need not be perfect to achieve positive health benefits.

Having flexible restraint has shown to reduce binge eating. It also helps people to focus more on the quality of the food and removes guilt if one meal is of poorer quality.

Becoming free of rigid rules when it comes to food can be liberating and help us to focus of the important aspects, like the quality of food, hunger cues and satiety. So, the next time you sit down to eat, slow down, look at your plate, take in the colors and aromas, tastes. It can be the most delightful medicine.

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