Mindfulness and meditation against autism stress 3:04
You ate your lunch while watching social media or your favorite show, and now you feel bloated and can't even tell what your food tasted like.
Or maybe you feel guilty about eating leftover chocolate cake straight out of the fridge.
These behaviors and mindsets are in contrast to mindful eating, also known as “mindful eating,” which consists of using all the physical and emotional senses to experience and enjoy food choices without judging them, explains Lilian Cheung, teacher and director of Promotion of Health and Communication in the Nutrition department of the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, by email.
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Mindful eating "stems from the broader philosophy of mindfulness, a widespread and centuries-old practice used in many religions," Cheung said. "Mindfulness is an intentional focus on one's thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations in the present moment." .
The philosophies of mindful eating and intuitive eating overlap, but differ in some key ways.
While mindful eating is about being present to experience food while eating, intuitive eating focuses more on improving the relationship with food and body image by rejecting the external messages of rigid diets.
Whether one method is better than the other depends on the individual's needs, says Lisa Young, assistant professor of nutrition at New York University, private nutritionist, and author of "Finally Full, Finally Slim: 30 Days to Permanent Weight Loss One Portion at a Time ".
Mindful eating goes well with all kinds of advice and strategies on eating, weight and health.
"It is easier to use for a wider audience because it is a tool that can be incorporated into many different methods," Young said.
These experts cautioned that mindful eating is not a panacea for problems related to food or health, but small studies have suggested some benefits of the practice, largely based on its meditative aspects and its ability to help people. to differentiate physical hunger signals from emotional hunger.
Some people have experienced weight loss or stabilization, reduced anxiety and stress, regulated eating habits, and relief from irritable bowel syndrome and gastrointestinal symptoms, Young says.
If you want to try mindful eating, here's what you need to know to get started and the potential pitfalls.
Practice mindful eating
The goal of mindful eating is to be more in tune with all your senses - sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch - and your thoughts while eating without distraction, said Teresa T. Fung, professor and director of the Dietetics Didactic Program from Simmons University in Boston, and associate professor of nutrition at Harvard's TH Chan School of Public Health.
"When I eat breakfast, I will not be with my iPad in hand reading the news today. I will not check my email. I will sit in a quiet place, it can be a sofa. I do not have to sit at the dining room table" Fung explained.
Fung shared his experience with morning coffee with CNN: Pay attention to the sound of his coffee, then the smell. You look at the color of your drink, the balance between cream and coffee. He then concentrates on whether the coffee is as hot in his mouth as the cup in his hands, or on the texture of the liquid. As you drink, you can mentally note the flavors.
Gratitude is both an aspect and a potential result of mindful eating. By raising awareness beyond oneself while eating, you can also think about "where the food came from, expressing gratitude for the elements of the environment and the people involved in the journey from food to plate," explains Cheung, Editorial Director of The Nutrition Source, the online resource in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health that provides scientific guidance for healthy living.
You may be used to using the phone, watching TV, or reading while eating, but you can break that habit by gradually eliminating distractions at mealtime.
"If you eat dinner watching TV most nights of the week, can you start by setting aside Sunday night for mindful eating? Then Monday, and so on," Cheung says.
The same is true of those who have a very busy schedule that makes it difficult to focus solely on eating.
Try to practice mindful eating as much as you can, whether it's for five minutes at mealtime or during every meal and snack - doing what you can is better than doing nothing, experts say.
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If you're feeling impatient or wanting to pick up the phone while eating, it's okay, Cheung said.
You just have to be aware of those sensations, take a few deep breaths, and pay attention to your food again.
Take small bites and chew well.
If you eat slowly, you are more likely to recognize when you are satisfied, rather than full, and can stop eating.
"Sharing a meal or eating with other people is certainly recommended," says Cheung, and mindful eating "doesn't have to mean consuming food in silence."
Rather, try to set aside a few minutes at the beginning of the meal: smile at your companions, express your gratitude for the food and the company of others, and try the first few bites without speaking to focus on the experience of eating. "
Once you've been mindful of eating for a while, the mindset can be applied to other areas of your life.
"You can apply it to conscious living and doing one thing at a time," says Fung.
"I'm going to check my emails now; I'm going to watch TV later. Often times, we do so many things at the same time that we don't really pay attention to anything."