Turn off the Netflix and start enjoying the experience of eating. Notice your food, notice your satiation – and you’ll instinctively eat better.
It can be easy to fall into the habit of rushing meals and grabbing what you can for lunch. But this way of eating – eating for the sake of feeling full – means we aren’t truly present when we’re fuelling our bodies.
Enter mindful nutrition – using your senses to get fully aware of what you’re eating and how it makes you feel. And it might just be your ticket to deepening your digestive power and increasing your metabolism.
When you eat mindfully, you accept and acknowledge every thought, emotion and feeling that comes your way throughout the process. So, how can you get started?
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First, honour your hunger. How hungry are you? Familiarise yourself with the Hunger Scale, where one is the kind of hunger where you have a headache or dizziness and are losing concentration and ten is beyond full, you’ve overindulged and you don’t want to move. We recommend starting to eat when you are at level two – when the urge to eat is strong – and finish by the time you reach number seven – when you are fully satisfied.
Next, make sure you are truly present when eating. Treat eating as meditation. Whilst you are eating ensure that is all you are doing. Give yourself a moment away from the phone, set aside that TV show you were watching. Focus. Breath. Enjoy. Think about the colours of the foods you’re eating, the smells, flavours and the sound your chosen foods make when you eat them.
It may sound simple but, it’s also important to chew your food. Slow down your chewing and aim for about 20-30 chews per mouthful. This aids your body’s digestion and allows for all those nutrients you’re eating to be properly absorbed by your body. Numerous studies emphasise the power that slow, mindful eating has on your journey to becoming a healthier version of yourself.
Once you’ve finished your meal, it’s time to reflect. What did you like about the meal? Where did it comes from? Did you spend time cooking it? By reflecting on your meal, you open yourself up to making more informed and conscious decisions about what you put into your body next time you eat. Allow yourself to consider how your next meal can be more sustainable, healthier, tastier and what might give you more positive feelings after eating.
There’s also some signs that what you’re eating isn’t welcome by your body. After eating, look for tiredness and the feeling of having no energy, bad sleep quality or waking up feeling unrested, lack of focus and fogginess, irregular bowel movements, weight gain or constant fluctuations, constantly feeling bloated or puffy, anxiousness or mood swings, still feeling hungry after a full meal and imbalances in hormones. These are all signs that your body isn’t responding well to the foods you’re eating.
On the other hand, when you eat food that is optimal for your body type, you’ll feel increased and consistent energy levels, weight loss or maintenance of ideal weight, uplifted and positive, decreased mood swings, improved gut health, improved cognitive function, better quality sleep, reduced stress, balanced hormones and diminished digestive upset including heartburn, bloating, constipation and fatigue. These are the hints your body will give you that you’re eating what it needs.
Adopting these simple strategies will only take a few minutes each day, and will help you get hyper intuitive to what works for your body and your unique body type. And it might just give you the wellness kick start you need.
Imogen is a holistic health coach and founder of 20FIT Australia, personal training with full body electro muscle stimulation.