Practicing mindfulness has been shown to provide our bodies with a variety of benefits. It can help alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety, reduce stress, and help individuals gain more emotional resilience.
Mindfulness is a great practice to implement if you want to improve your emotional wellness. The positive effects of practicing mindfulness can also contribute to your physical wellness by helping you to improve your eating habits.
The basic principle behind mindfulness is to remain present and aware of our surroundings and our bodies. While in this state, you should be aware of your thoughts and emotions, but not overly judgmental or reactive towards them.
Maintaining a state of mindfulness as you eat makes it difficult to engage in unhealthy eating habits like binge eating, making poor nutritional choices, and eating when you’re not truly hungry.
here are a few ways mindfulness can improve your eating habits.
It Promotes Eating With Intention
Eating mindfully encourages us to eat with intention. Your main purpose for eating should be to provide your body with the fuel and nutrients it needs to function properly.
Eating with this intention will enable you to become more in tune with your body and recognize its physical hunger cues and the ways in which the foods you eat affect it.
Intentional eating usually inspires individuals to choose healthy, nutritious whole foods over processed junk food. It also encourages better decisions about when and how much food to eat.
Intentional eating doesn’t have to mean giving up celebratory meals and cheat days. In fact, establishing boundaries between nutritional foods and indulgences can allow for more balance and control within your diet. Many intentional eaters follow the 80/20 rule, which designates 80% of the diet for nutritious foods and 20% for treats.
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It Reduces Binge Eating
Binge eating is an extreme form of mindless eating that involves eating a lot of food within a short timeframe. This habit can lead to weight gain and obesity, and hinder your overall fitness goals. Thankfully, it’s possible to gain control over binge eating by practicing mindful eating.
Because mindful eating involves eating more slowly and according to your body’s hunger cues, it discourages rapid eating and eating past the point of hunger. Mindful eating also discourages distractions while eating. This can reduce the habit of mindlessly binge eating while watching TV or texting.
A study involving a meditation-based intervention program for women suffering from binge eating disorder found that mindfulness significantly lowered the occurrence of binge eating episodes.
It Controls Emotional Eating
Mindfulness has proven to help with emotional control and resilience. While practicing mindfulness, you remain aware of your thoughts and emotions without reacting to them.
Practicing mindfulness and meditation on a regular basis has been shown to reduce emotions like stress, depression, and anxiety. By extending your mindfulness practice to your eating habits, you can reduce the habit of emotional eating.
Emotional eating involves eating as a reaction to emotions like stress, sadness, and even boredom. Since reducing your emotional reactions is a major aspect of mindfulness, this practice can help you to control your urge to eat in response to emotional stimuli. Instead of eating on impulse, mindful eating encourages you to eat only when you are physically hungry.
How to Start Mindful Eating
If you’re interested in testing out the effect that mindfulness can have on your eating habits, here are a few tips for getting started with mindful eating:
Avoid distractions while eating, i.e. watching TV, scrolling through your phone.
Eat slowly and incorporate all of your senses as you enjoy your food.
Listen to your body and eat only when you’re hungry.
Choose healthy, whole foods with the intention of nourishing and energizing your body.