10 Health Benefits Of Being Mindful When Eating

by Isadora Baum, CHC

Eating mindfully can seem tough, as it's likely that by the time you sit down to eat food (or even walk while eating), you're ravenous and can't seem to hold back from devouring in mere seconds. However, being mindful when eating can benefit the body and mind, as it can allow time for the body to register its fullness and appreciate the food and flavors more, explained Mother Nature Network's Jenni Grover in an interview with Huffington Post.

As a certified health coach, I work with clients on appreciating facets of their lives, whether that be through food, exercise, friendships, and other relationships, travel, rest, recreational activities, and even work, among other areas. In my experiences with clients and myself, I have found that when you are more grateful for what you have, you're able to have a better perspective on your life and slow down a bit in order to savor these precious moments. One moment in particular is mealtime, where mindfulness can make you feel more in tune with your body and better able to manage how you're feeling when eating your meal. Here are 11 ways that being mindful when eating can be beneficial for your wellbeing and help you relish each moment in life. With these simple steps, it's easy to enjoy the textures and savory notes of whatever creation you're delighted with.

1. It Can Prevent Eating In Excess

In interview with Bustle, Lynne Goldberg, certified meditation coach and co-founder of the OMG. I Can Meditate! app, discusses how mindfulness when eating can prevent overconsumption of food, when you're not really hungry. We eat for so many reasons, and often times they have nothing to do with hunger. For instance, we may eat when we are bored, stressed or sad, and we can even be subconsciously triggered to eat by the smell of delicious food around us. Or, when we go to the movie theater and buy a popcorn just because it’s 'tradition.' You may not be hungry, but you eat all, or most, of the bag anyway," Goldberg says. Be mindful of eating based on "obligation" rather than hunger.

2. It Can Helps You Tune Into Your Bodies

Goldberg says, "The practice of mindful eating can certainly boost your health. Mindfulness allows us to be truly present with our thoughts, feelings and emotions as we eat." Goldberg also speaks of body cues; "we learn to pay attention to our bodies cues as well." By being in tune with the body, it's easier to register fullness, Goldberg explains, and this can help prevent overeating, digestive woes, or inability to savor the flavors and textures.

3. It Can Create A Pause

Instead of instantly reaching for a second serving, being mindful can help you take a moment to consider whether or not you need more food or are full, advises Goldberg. "Rather than automatically reaching for a snack after work or going for that second helping, being mindful with our foods lets us take an extra second to notice our sense of fullness, or other reasons we may be eating that aren’t simply because of habit or hunger," Goldberg says.

4. It Can Help You Manage Weight

Lilian Cheung, a nutritionist and lecturer at the Harvard School of Public Health expressed how being mindful when eating helped her lose weight in her book, Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life, which she co-wrote with Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. While losing weight is not a goal for everyone, it's a good idea to have weight management for overall health and wellbeing, Hanh expressed. Plus, "when you are aware that you feel satiated, satisfied, and full, you will be way less likely to overeat," says licensed marriage and family therapist Erika Fay, LMFT, over email with Bustle.

5. It Could Help With Cancer Patients

Stephanie Meyers, a dietician at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, uses mindfulness techniques when eating with her cancer patients, and Meyers has found that it helps them with their symptoms and healing process. It also helps them savor their foods' flavors and textures better, which is always something that's desirable when dining, in my opinion.

6. It Can Prevent Binge Eating

Based on the training by Jean Kristeller, Ph.D., a psychologist, scientist, and mindful eating expert, called MB-EAT, Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training, it can be understood that using mindfulness techniques can help prevent binges, especially in those who might struggle with poor eating habits. When eating, think about your food, take deep breaths, and slow down for healthier habits.

7. It Can Help You Enjoy Your Food

Enjoying the delicious sweet and savory notes of our food is a great feature when eating, right? Taking moments to sit down and savor all the wonderful flavors and textures is a great bonus of mindfully eating, advises Chicago-based therapist Chelsea Hudson, LCPC, over email with Bustle. "Eat your meal slowly, savoring all the flavors, and reflecting on your hard work that went into creating your delicious meal," Hudson says.

8. You Gives You A Chance To Make Mealtime Fun

"If you're in the mood, turn on some music, wear a cute apron, and sing and dance to your favorite tune while cooking," advises Hudson. By being mindful of your time when preparing, cooking, and eating, you're able to thoroughly enjoy the experience, and set the mood to have a fantastic meal.

9. It Can Help You Absorb Nutrients Better

By choosing foods that encourage slower consumption, you'll be able to be mindful and absorb the nutrients better, especially if the meal of choice boasts such properties, like protein and water content, explains Sharon Brown, co-founder of Bonafide Provisions, over email with Bustle. Brown says that "meals high in protein make people feel fuller faster." Brown also says, "sipping bone broth warm alongside a protein-packed lunch like a chicken or salmon salad can help you assimilate that protein more effectively, and in turn make you feel fuller more quickly."

10. It Puts Things In Perspective

Hudson suggests that taking the time to be mindful can help you express gratitude for the food you are eating, where it came from, the time it took to cook or prepare it, and the flavors and textures it provides to satiate your senses. "Think about where the food came from and express gratitude for those who labored to produce the food," says Hudson.

By taking time to slow down and be more mindful when eating, you'll be able to reap health benefits that can carry over into other life areas to promote greater wellbeing, absorption of nutrients, fullness, appreciation, and happiness. Enjoying food should be a treat, so why not give yourself the full opportunity to relish in it.

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