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Article describes what mindful eating is, what the benefits are and gives a step by step guide to practicing this art.

One of the major behavioural issues people display around food is unconscious eating. How many times have you found yourself aimlessly staring into the refrigerator and then grabbing whatever you see and stuffing it in your mouth? And how often have you found yourself mindlessly guzzling food only to realize thirty minutes later that you are stuffed to capacity? Our minds are so bombarded with stimuli, that we often lack the capacity to concentrate on one thing at a time. When it comes to eating, it is ever so important to remain mindful and focused.

Why eat Mindfully?

Mindful eating is one of the best practices to help nurture a healthy relationship with food. Food should be eaten for two reasons only: Nourishment and Enjoyment. First and foremost we need to choose foods that are nutritious, healthy and appropriate for our bodies and energy levels. But at the same time, we are also allowed to enjoy the food we eat. We do have taste buds after all! The problem is that unconscious eaters are often eating the wrong foods and not even necessarily enjoying them! What a waste. 

The trick is to find a balance between Living to Eat and eating to Live. I like to go by an 80:20 rule: 80 percent healthy choices and 20 percent indulgent. And when you do indulge, please savour the moment and enjoy!

Eating mindfully helps us to connect more fully with our natural hunger signals. In modern society, a lot of what we eat and what we crave has nothing to do with natural hunger. Our bodies do not need processed and refines sugars and carbohydrates, or chocolate or coffee. Cravings for these so-called foods stem from addictions and deficiencies, rather than real hunger. A craving for chocolate and candy could be brought on by a lack of wholegrains in the diet, which supply complex carbohydrates, fibre, magnesium and chromium that help keep us full and sustained. Cravings are often also brought on by more psychological and emotional factors as we use food to fill other needs, like love or belonging. Natural hunger should be for healthy, whole foods and non-food related issues should be dealt with appropriately and not in the kitchen.

Eating mindfully also improves digestion.

When you eat, a lot of blood flow is diverted to the digestive system. If you are busy sending an email, talking on the phone or driving whilst eating, less blood will be delivered to the digestive system and more to the brain and muscles. The result? Slowed digestion and possible bloating and indigestion.

When we begin practice mindful eating, we begin to infuse more consciousness into our choices. The result is better shopping choices, healthier and more meaningful and enjoyable food preparation and ultimately improved health and vitality!

Eating mindfully also connects us with the earth and the environment. Have you ever wondered where your food came from and what happened from the time a seed was planted or an animal was born until it got to your plate? Think about all the people that were involved, from the farmers, to the harvesters, to the package and delivery people and even the supermarket staff.

Thinking about where our food comes from also helps us connect to the more ethical aspects of food and helps us to make more informed choices about where our food comes from.

For some people, mindful eating leads to better choices when it comes to choosing organic food, sources locally and farmed ethically.

 

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