Eating Mindfully for Better Health.

Eating Mindfully for Better Health.

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A young woman eats a snack while sitting on the couch in her living room and looking at her phone.

If you have found yourself mindlessly finishing off a big bag of chips or a quart of ice cream during these unsettling times, you are not alone. Many of us turn to food for comfort when we are experiencing stress.

But emotional eating can negatively affect your health—both physically and mentally. It can lead to weight gain, or worsen pre-existing conditions like diabetes, especially if you aren’t able to do as much physical activity as usual. Those things, in turn, can cause or exacerbate depression or anxiety.

Are you finding yourself turning to food for comfort or stress relief more often? On the #LiveWellHealthy blog, Jessica DeCostole, MS, RD, gives 5 tips for how to eat mindfully, stop emotional eating, and better your health:

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The solution? Mindful eating. At times like this, it’s essential to pay attention to what, when, how, and why you’re eating.

What is mindful eating?

Mindful eating is an approach to food that brings mindfulness to food choice and the experience of eating, so you eat healthier and enjoy your food more. When you slow down and pay attention to how and what you eat, you’re more likely to make better decisions that will nourish your body.

5 tips for practicing mindful eating.

Unsure how to eat mindfully? Here are a few tips to help get you started:

1. Unplug.

Avoid watching TV and talking on the phone or texting while you eat. Stop working and step away from the computer. Set everything aside and take a break to enjoy and savor your food. Focus on your meal.

2. Slow down.

Your brain needs time to register that you’re eating and to communicate to your body when you are full. Set your fork down between bites. It’s likely that you’ll eat a lot less. This helps prevent overeating, weight gain, and digestive stress.

3. Chew well.

Devouring food without chewing very well can trigger unpleasant symptoms like bloating, gas, and indigestion. The saliva in your mouth is full of active enzymes that help break down food, making it easier to digest and allowing for better absorption of vitamins and nutrients.

4. Only eat when you’re hungry.

Ask “why am I eating?” before you take a bite. If your answer is boredom, stress, or another emotion, try redirecting yourself by calling a friend or taking a walk. This helps you avoid emotional eating and mindless snacking.

Related: Easy ways to eat healthy during COVID-19.

5. Be present.

Notice the colors, shapes, and aroma of your food. As you take a bite of food, think about the flavors and textures as you chew. Truly focusing on your food will also encourage you to slow down and enjoy the experience of eating.

Mindful eating can be a magical, stimulating experience that supports good health. By tapping into all of your senses, you will begin to appreciate your food more, and decrease your emotional eating habits and their negative side effects.

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