What does mindful eating mean?
Eating is not the same as eating. You can eat while walking, you can eat while standing, you can eat while talking on the phone or while watching TV, or you can sit down at a table to eat. The way in which you eat largely determines how your body perceives, consumes and can deal with food .
This is where mindful eating begins. Due to the pace of everyday life today, eating has become a minor matter. Many people no longer take the time to eat calmly and consciously. When you eat mindfully, you put your food first, enjoy it with attention and not do something else at the same time. Concentrating on the moment leads to rest, relaxation and better food intake .
This also includes actively paying attention to your body signals again. If you need energy, you get hungry. Nature intended this so that your body and brain are supplied as well as possible. However, through behavioral patterns, food can instead become a function.
- You eat for an emotional reason, not because you are hungry
- You eat out of habit, not because you need energy
- You eat on special occasions, such as watching TV
- You eat more than you really should
If you follow your gut instinct instead, the meal will fit what your body needs: intuitive eating is the keyword. If you have an appetite such as meat, apples, fish, salad or bread, then your body needs these nutrients. If you just feel like eating something, the type and amount of food and the time of the meal are usually not correct. By eating mindfully, you learn to trust your body feeling again .
Eating mindfully also means enjoying yourself. You close your eyes, the smell of the food fills your nose. You look at the different colors of the ingredients on your plate. Every bite develops its taste in your mouth through intensive chewing. You take your time, explore the depths of taste instead of swallowing your food as quickly as possible.
This mindfulness can help you lose weight, because your stomach sends its feeling of satiety to your brain with a time delay. Researchers assume a time span between 15 minutes and 20 minutes. If you eat quickly, your body has no chance of sending a stop signal in time. You eat more than you actually need and don’t lose weight as a result.
On the other hand, you let yourselfif you have enough time to eat , the amount of food consumed is automatically reduced. You eat less until the stomach sends its satiety signal to your brain. The balance between hunger, eating and getting full is restored. Unlike dieting, eating mindfully can help you lose weight due to dietary considerations.
Various studies show this. For example, a mindful eating project with 80 test subjects was carried out at North Carolina State University (USA) . Around 40 of them actively participated in the program. The other half was the comparison group. The result: within 15 weeks, the mindful eaters lost 1.9 kilograms . The comparison group had identical food – but only a weight loss of 300 grams.
Apart from a possible weight loss, mindful eating is also important for one thing: the health of your intestinal flora , the microbiome . Do you eat under time pressure or gobble your food whole because your thoughts are distracted,this signals stress to your body .
This triggers the release of the stress hormone cortisol in the adrenal cortex . Evolution has set it up in such a way that we can physically react quickly in an emergency situation. Your heart beats faster, blood flow and breathing rate increase. Energy is drawn from the gastrointestinal area.
If the overproduction of cortisol continues, it can reduce the diversity of intestinal bacteria in your microbiome. Your intestinal flora is out of whack. Constipation, diarrhea or stomach pain can result. In addition, the production of the happiness hormone serotonin in your intestines can be hindered– which is bad for your mood. If you are one of the “frustration eaters”, the amount of your meals could increase.
If, on the other hand, you eat mindfully and with positive emotions, it is good for your intestinal flora. Concentrating on the moment and enjoying your meal do not allow stress to arise in the first place. If you link the philosophy of mindfulness with your entire everyday life, this can not only ensure a good body feeling, but also satisfaction.
Eating with gut instinct – 10 tips for mindful eating
Mindful eating is not magic. All you have to do is follow a few simple rules :
- Try to focus on your food and not wander with your thoughts.
- Take five minutes at the beginning of your meal for yourself and your food. Don’t let yourself be distracted by talking to people sitting next to you. In this way, the food does not become a minor matter that only disappears in your stomach.
- Enjoy your food to the fullest and discover it with all your senses while smelling, looking at, chewing and swallowing.
- Take lots of small bites rather than a few big ones. With this you stretch the eating and chewing. The satiety signal from the stomach is given enough time to be sent to your brain. The amount of your food is reduced.
- Try to chew each bite at least 30 times before swallowing it. The longer you chew, the stronger the enzyme amylase in your saliva has on your food. It breaks down carbohydrates into glucose and maltose, among other things, and prepares food for digestion. The more intensively this is done in advance, the easier your food will run through the gastrointestinal tract.
Mindful eating is just as easy to integrate into your everyday life. You can make yourself aware that you are responsible for what food your body receives and how it deals with it. An important point is that you don’t just eat anything that comes to mind in between.
Often these are short-term energy suppliers that have little content such as fiber. Have starches, vitamins or minerals – such as sweets, cakes, fast food, fruit yoghurt or white flour products such as bread, pizza or others.
They contain industrial sugar or simple carbohydrates such as grape sugar or fructose, which quickly get into the blood through your intestines. As a reaction, the insulin level in your blood rises, but then quickly falls again – the notorious food cravings are triggered .
You eat something again, add more carbohydrates to your gastrointestinal tract, the sugar in the blood rises, insulin is released – and the cycle starts all over again. In addition, your body stores excess sugar from the blood as fat in your tissue.
Sugar can also be bad for your intestinal flora , depending on the type and amount . It supports the multiplication of harmful fungi in the intestine. The intestinal wall becomes permeable to pollutants and bacteria, which in this way get into your blood, your circulatory system and your organs.
For mindful eating and possible weight loss, diet recommendations with long-chain carbohydrates like starch are better. This includes foods with whole grains such as bread, rice or pasta – but also oatmeal, nuts and potatoes. Fruits such as not yet ripe, slightly green bananas or vegetables such as beans, chickpeas and lentils also contain long-chain carbohydrates.
These must first be converted into simple carbohydrates by the intestine . So they don’t get into your blood suddenly, but gradually. The result: your insulin level remains stable longer. You don’t have any food cravings, less excess sugar from the blood is stored as fat by the body.
Even if you do not have any experience with mindfulness in your life and with eating, you can use the points mentioned to get started. The balance between the type of food and the way you eat, can you to a new equilibrium , more intestinal health and more balance lead .
Binge eating, i.e. cravings, emotional eating depending on emotional states and eating after cravings – all of this can be avoided with a simple trick. You can simply ask yourself: what do I want to eat when and why?
Do you come to the conclusion
- that your food has nothing to do with what your body actually needs and what it signals to you through an appetite for something specific
- the timing is completely wrong
- the way of eating (while walking, standing, talking on the phone, in front of the television, etc.) is not right
- Your food is not triggered by hunger, but by something else such as emotions or situations
- the ingredients are not sustainable for your insulin levels and your digestion
then you are far from mindfulness . This is exactly what you can change by remembering what this article says.
Recommended books on mindful eating are “Mindful Eating” by Jan Chozen Bays from Arbor Verlag. The exercises for the book can be downloaded free of charge as MP3s. “Eat mindfully. Living Mindfully ”by Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Lilian Cheung is also a good book on the connection between attitude to life, conscious eating and body weight. Another podcast worth listening to is “Mindful Eating” by Austrian Cornelia Fiechtl.