The Importance of Mindful EatingPosted: Mar 25 in Lifestyle by Staff
You may have heard about the recent health trend of mindful eating. Other than taking time to pay attention to our food, what does it mean to mindfully eat? And what are the benefits?
When you mindfully eat, you slow down and pay complete attention to your food with all of your senses. You take the time to notice the texture and smell of the food as well as the taste. Perhaps you even take a moment to appreciate the appearance, or any appealing visual presentation, of your food. In taking this approach, you learn to truly appreciate the food that is placed in front of you. Food becomes an experience rather than just fuel for the body.
One of the main benefits of mindful eating is that you tend to eat more slowly. Slower eating is healthier for our digestive system. It also helps us better recognize our satiety cues, since it may take up to 20 minutes to feel full once you have finished eating. If you eat too fast, you may stuff yourself with more food than your body needs before recognizing that you are satiated. Also, if you’re eating more slowly, you’re more likely to enjoy the taste of your food!
An additional benefit to mindful eating, or any mindfulness exercise, is the connection to the parasympathetic nervous system, often called the “rest or digest” branch of the nervous system. You may have heard of the “fight or flight”, or sympathetic, mode that the body relies on during stressful situations. When in “fight or flight” mode, the body releases stress hormones such as cortisol. These stress hormones have been associated with inflammation, poor digestion, and other chronic health conditions. Yet when we perform rituals such as mindful eating which allow us to tap into our parasympathetic nervous system, there is less of a stress and inflammatory response throughout the body.
As you can see, there are many positive sides to mindful eating! Any time you have the opportunity to slow down and pause during your meal, your body will certainly appreciate it.