How often have you read that you should eat mindfully? What does that actually mean?
Eating mindfully is the practice of being present as you eat.
If you’re into mindfulness, you might think that ‘mindful eating’ is all about “eating slowly and without distraction.” That is certainly one way to look at it but I also want to share my take on it…
One of the things that comes up all the time for my clients is non-hunger eating. This is eating even though you’re not actually hungry.
Does that resonate with you? Do you ever eat for comfort, due to stress, out of boredom, in secret or because you’re upset about something? The consequences stretch far beyond problems with weight. They go right to the soul, and have you feeling incomplete, wrong, guilty and ashamed.
In my book, mindful eating is with intention and attention.
- Eating with the intention of caring for yourself.
- Eating with the attention necessary for noticing and enjoying your food and how it affects your body.
- Being aware of your physical and emotional cues.
- Recognising your non-hunger triggers.
- Learning to meet your needs or reward yourself without food.
- Choosing food to nourish your body.
I find many people who struggle with food react mindlessly to their unrecognised triggers, thoughts, and feelings. Mindfulness increases your awareness of these patterns and triggers without judgment and creates space between your triggers and your actions.
HOW TO EAT MINDFULLY
- Whenever you notice you feel like eating, pause to ask the question, “am I hungry?”. You are then able to observe your thoughts andchoose how you will respond. This gives you response-ability and empowers you to break old automatic or habitual chain reactions and discover options that work better for you.
- Exercise: think back to the last time you ate. Did you look at your watch for your cue or to see whether it was time to eat? Did you have an appointment, for lunch, maybe? Or perhaps you walked past a shop window and THEN decided you really needed a cake just like the one you saw in the window.
I can tell you that before I got out of the diet trap myself, I was alarmed to discover that I never ate because I was hungry. What were your reasons?
- It was TIME to eat (lunch, dinner, etc.)
- You were offered food
- You were sad and needed to be comforted
- You were angry
- You were bored
- You were happy and wanted to celebrate
- You saw something you fancied
- You were upset and needed a treat
This exercise will give you a valuable insight into why you are choosing to eat.
Remember you were born knowing exactly how much to eat. Hunger is your body’s way of telling you that you need fuel.
By reconnecting with your instinctive signals, you can manage your eating without restrictive dieting or obsessing over every bite of food you put in your mouth. Proper hunger is your natural guide but you need to be able to distinguish this from the non-food triggers.
To break out of the pattern of eating on autopilot, get in the habit of asking yourself, “am I hungry?” every time you feel like eating. This simple but powerful question will help you recognise the difference between an urge to eat caused by the physical need for food from an urge to eat caused by ‘head hunger’ or non-hunger eating.
The more you are conscious of what you are putting into your body, the more you are able to choose healthier, nourishing foods. This will help you establish a healthy relationship with food and maintain a healthy weight.
Do you experience ongoing hunger even if you have eaten so much? Did you know that what you actually eat controls how full you feel? Let’s take a look…
A study published in the Nutrition Research Review 2013 found that there are certain foods that you can eat that will fill you up, avoid the hunger and make you eat less.
Here are three tips to stay full for longer.
1. Eat Protein With Every Meal
Eating foods high in protein with every meal is one of the tips to stay full for longer. Protein is one of three main macro-nutrients required by the human body.
It is broken down into amino acids which your body needs for building muscles, balancing your hormones, neurological and mood support, digestion and many more. Protein helps to keep your body going.
It is the macro-nutrient that fills you up the most.
Your body needs twenty amino acids. It can create 11 of them but you need to get the other nine, which are called essential amino acids, from your food.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2008 found that protein increases fullness to a greater extent than carbohydrate or fat and makes it easier for you to eat less.
Food sources high in protein include:
– Wild fish – salmon, mackerel, sardines, etc.
– Free-range eggs
– Free-range/organic chicken or turkey
– Whey protein/pea protein
– Yogurt – Raw milk[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”2708″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]
2. Eat foods high in dietary fiber
Eating foods high in dietary fiber are one of the tips to stay full for longer. Dietary fiber is a complex carbohydrate which your body cannot digest; it passes through your digestive system and helps to keep it healthy.
There are two types of dietary fiber: insoluble and soluble.
The two types of dietary fibre in your diet provide bulk; they take longer to move through your digestive system so it will keep you feeling full and satisfied for longer. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition 2000 found that dietary fiber has unique physical and chemical properties that provide early and prolonged signals of fullness and satisfaction.
It is very essential to make sure you are drinking enough water when you are including fiber in your diet. Fiber absorbs water so if you are not drinking enough water you can get constipated.
Food sources high in dietary fiber include:
– Vegetables: broccoli, lettuce, carrot, peas, cucumber, kale etc.
– Fruits: Berries, apple, avocado, etc.
– Legumes: beans, lentils, etc.
– Oats[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”2709″ img_size=”full”][vc_column_text]
3. Eat Foods With A High Water Content
Eating foods with a high water content are one of the tips to stay full for longer. Nearly all foods contain some water but some foods such as whole, unprocessed foods contain more water for example vegetables and fruits are made up of about 80-98% of water.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1999 examined the effects of water combined with food such as soups on fullness. It found out that eating food that has high water content effectively increased fullness and reduced the need for more food.
Healthy homemade soups made with lots of vegetables and good quality protein is an excellent food that is high in water.
The Bottom Line
Foods that are not processed are generally more filling than foods that are processed. Always include protein and dietary fiber with all your meals to help you stay full for longer.
Hetherington M M, Cunningham K, Dye L, Gibson E L, Gregersen N T, Halford J C, Lawton C L, Lluch A, Mela D J, Van Trip H C (2013) Potential benefits of satiety to the consumer: scientific considerations. Nutrition Research Review, 26: 22-38.
Paddon-Jones D, Westman E, Mattes R D, Wolfe R R, Astrup A, Westerterp-Plantenga M (2008) Protein, weight management, and satiety. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 87: 1558S-1561S.
Burton-Freeman B (2000) Dietary fiber and energy regulation. Journal of Nutrition, 130: 272S-275S.
Rolls B J, Bell E, Thorwart M L (1999) Water incorporated into a food but not served with a food decreases energy intake in lean women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 70: 448-455
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