We are so excited to join the R street community here at Market 5-ONE-5! We are going to start off by talking about eating food, surprise there right. More specifically, we are going into mindful or intuitive eating.
You will see that I am not a fan of the restrictive diets, or the term “diet” in general and this is why: restrictive eating for the purpose of weight loss does not work for the majority of people. It tends to focus on outside cues and creates a prescriptive approach to eating. To get sciencey for a minute: the internal systems in our bodies involve a complex interaction between hormones that are released and suppressed in response to hunger and the “fullness” feeling from digestion and ingestion of food. Restrictive eating and dieting teaches us to not listen and downright disregard these internal cues. It puts us on a strict schedule of what, when, and how much to eat. It leaves us feeling hungry and limited while constantly thinking about and being anxious for our next meal. That’s not fun for anyone! So then what is Mindful eating?
Mindful Versus Mindless Eating
How many of us have snacked while making lunch/dinner or munched on something while driving to work? What about when you sit down to unwind from a busy day and watch a little TV or stream on your computer with a bag of chips or bowl of ice cream and next thing you know the bag/bowl is magically empty? Well, whether you are eating for a physical or an emotional distraction, this is what we call mindless eating.
The concept of mindful eating has been growing in popularity over the past few years, research is pretty new, but showing some promising result with its effectiveness in weight loss, improvement in mood and helping to reduce inflammation in the body. Mindful eating focuses on using your senses when choosing to eat food that is both satisfying and nourishing to your body. When practicing mindful eating, you are being attentive to your body and environmental cues that trigger the want/need to eat and drink. It allows you to be present at the meal and appreciate the taste, texture, aroma and presentation of each dish.
I realize this is much easier said than done, we as a society are always on the go, rushed, distracted, “too-busy”. Most of us eat fast, like really fast! Many of us do not take the time to enjoy the experience and savor the flavor of the food and our meals, I am guilty of doing this with growing up in a firefighting household. We were pros at the scoop/shovel food into your mouth as fast as possible game! My sister and I even got into races sometimes to see who could chow down on mom’s chicken stir fry as fast as possible. What I noticed though is I would often not feel fully satisfied after my meal and caught myself looking into the cupboards in search to satisfy that feeling, but at the same time felt like I was about to burst from the food belly I had created as my body fought to digest what I had already shoveled in.
Let’s go into just what happens to our bodies when we play the eat as much as you can, as fast as possible game! Digestion starts in the mouth; when we smell or even think about food, we start to salivate. Salvia contains enzymes that begin to break down food right when we put it into our mouth and moistens the mouth and throat to allow food to be swallowed easily. You know the times that we take large bites or don’t totally chew, it can be hard to swallow and then kinda sits in your stomach for a while? Well, this is because it is difficult for our stomachs to turn that big piece of food into what we call chyme. Chyme is a liquid mixture that forms from partially digested food, hydrochloric acid, digestive enzymes and water in the stomach, it goes into our intestines where our body absorbs what it wants and needs then gets rid of the rest. When we eat too much and/or don’t fully chew, our body struggles with this whole process and that is when we can get indigestion and GI issues! However, when we take our time and savor our meal, pay attention to the flavors and how the food tastes and appreciate each bite, we can leave the table feeling satisfied and all around happy while also helping with the digestion and doing a natural form of portion control. That’s a win!
So How Do I Start?
Learning your specific body cues involves some trial and error. The level and intensity of hunger can vary along with knowing what foods and the amounts that will truly satisfy hunger. How the body responds to food and the time of day we are hungry is different for each of us. The main thing is to start by taking moments throughout the day to check in with yourself. This will only take a few seconds! Getting to know your hunger and fullness cues may possibly help in losing the weight for good while not feeling starved or restricted in the process.
Diet extremism often leads to stress, unhappiness, and even weight gain and health problems if not careful. Acknowledge there is no right or wrong way to eat for you, but more a varying degree of awareness involving what your body wants/needs and the experience of food. Gain awareness on how you can make choices that support your overall health and well-being and become aware of the interconnection of earth, living beings, and cultural practices that impact our food choices and those systems.