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Mindful Eating

Uncategorized Dec 12, 2022

All of the information, guidelines, and strategies regarding nutrition out there today can feel overwhelming, leaving you unsure what the right thing to do is or where to begin.
Mindful eating is a simple habit that can make a big difference in your nutrition. Here's a few tips to help you get started!

1. Truly appreciate your food. With a lot of nutritional advice out there today, food is generally considered "bad". Starting to look at food as a detriment to your health is a road that can lead to starvation diets, eating disorders, and an overall negative mental state. Food doesn't taste good for no reason! It lights up the reward centers in your brain, increasing dopamine levels and overall mood. Choose nutritious, healthy foods, and you'll be able to enjoy your meals without feeling guilty.

2. Focus on just your food. Have you ever accidentally eaten a whole bag of chips while getting work done, or finished a full bucket of popcorn in the theater before the movie is even over? When you're focused on something other than the eating experience, your brain doesn't full register how much it's consuming. This can lead to overeating, increasing calorie amounts by a large number before you even realize it's happening. There are two ways to prevent this: stop what you're doing while you eat so you can focus only on the food, or portion your snack out so that you only have a predetermined amount available if you have to be focused on another task.

3. Take your time when eating. You've probably heard this before, but it takes 15-20 minutes for fullness signals to reach your brain from your stomach. If you eat quickly, you'll probably grab a plate of seconds and have that almost done before you even realize you're full. Not only does that increase your calorie count, it can leave you feeling bloated and sick. Start with a small-to-medium portion of food, eat slowly, and if you still feel hungry after 20 minutes you can grab some more.

4. Stop eating when satisfied. This goes along with #3. You've probably noticed as well that you eat when you're bored, when food is out, or if somebody offers it. A great way to avoid this is to opt for a glass of water or very small portion instead. Resisting that immediate non-hunger craving will go a long ways towads preventing overeating.

5. Focus on nutritious food. There's a lot of strategies out there that promote elimination diets, focusing on removing foods and shaming you for eating them. A much better solution is to focus on good foods and not on eliminating bad ones. When you fill your plate with nutritious, healthy options, there's less room for the unhealthy options and will lead to slow, sustainable reduction/elimination of them. Instead of sugary candy, buy some fruits and vegetables. Instead of grabbing that big mac on your way home from work, stop for some ground beef and make your own at home. Small changes like that are easy to do and can make a huge difference. 

6. Chew food thoroughly. When you take time to chew your food, it has a couple benefits. First, the act of chewing sends a heads-up signal to your stomach so that it begins the digestive process, increasing efficiency and resulting in smoother/more regular bowel movements. Second, food that has been broken down into smaller particles increases its surface area. This allows for more nutrients to be absorbed, a quicker digestive process, and will result in you feeling fuller sooner.

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