What is mindful eating?

Have you ever ate a whole bag of chips after binging the newest netflix show? You probably planned on eating only a handful of chips, but ended up eating the whole bag. Or have you ever ate so much that your stomach hurts or feels uncomfortable? Well, mindful eating can help combat and prevent these issues.

Mindful eating is about being consciously aware of your eating experience. To clarify what that entails, it means being physically present when eating any sort of food or meal by eliminating distractions. As college students we find it convenient to fit in an episode of our favorite shows or continue working on assignments while eating. Multitasking when eating prevents you from acknowledging the positive sensations and satiety cues your body experiences. This is why sometimes after eating a snack or meal, you may have realized you ate more than anticipated.

Besides eating more food than you needed, mindless eating doesn’t allow you to enjoy the taste aspect of what you ate. By being focused on something else, your food becomes a bland textured item that you are consuming without realizing. For example, when eating chocolate ice cream while watching a movie, all your mouth really senses is a cold semi-solid item rather the touch of sweetness and the tinge of bitter factor it has. Eating is an experience that is often overlooked and underappreciated in this fast moving society, but mindful eating has exponential benefits that should be incorporated into everyone’s lives.

The act of mindful eating has a variety of benefits that come along with it. When giving attention to what you eat with no distractions, it is easier to recognize your hunger and satiety cues. These cues prevent you from overeating and are quickly sensed when being aware of your eating experience. Also, your eating experience can become more interesting as your taste buds delve into each increment of flavor. Not only that, but there have been studies that reported mindful eating can reduce anxiety, depression, and distressed eating behaviors.

If you would like to try mindful eating, it is rather easy to incorporate into your life! First off, obtain your food of choice and try to find a place to sit down. If you can find a place that is quiet then it can better your first experience, but it is not necessary. The next step is obvious, but grab a piece of your food and begin to chew your food slowly. As you chew through the food, try to recognize the flavors your mouth is experiencing. Is it sour and acidic, or is it soft and sweet? During this part, you can savor the taste of the food and appreciate it more overall. Pace yourself as you continue to eat, you will be able to easily recognize when your stomach begins to feel satisfied. Acknowledge these cues and stop eating when satisfied. You can reflect on what you ate, maybe you realized you don’t particularly enjoy what you ate or found your taste buds going crazy while eating!

The practice of mindful eating can easily be incorporated into anyone’s life. This doesn’t require a whole hour of your day, mindful eating can take about 10 minutes per meal depending on what you eat. Next time you eat your next meal, try to mindfully eat it to get an understanding of how life changing the practice is!