WASHINGTON —Can you remember yesterday’s dinner — the smells, tastes and textures of the turkey hoagie that you needed to have?
Or were you paying additional attention to your inbox — eyes fixed to the screen, displaying emails with no respect for the sandwich that was chewed up and consumed between gulps of iced coffee?
If you’re like most Americans, your lunch (and dinner and breakfast) encounter likely falls in line with the latter. However, a rising number of caregivers say adding just a little mindfulness to mealtime can lead to some critical health benefits.
Similar to aware meditation, focusing on the breath and tapping in the current moment are the essentials of mindful eating. The significant difference is they are exercised at the table, not to a mat or in a studio.
“It’s more about eating with intention and focus,” clarified Lisa Consiglio Ryan, an Annapolis, Maryland-based certified integrative nutrition health coach and author of “Move sterile, Sexy You.”
“And it’s really listening to what your body needs.”
If this explanation sounds simple enough, Ryan says you’re right. Mindful eating is uncomplicated and natural, free from the portioning and carb-counting practices that have taken over modern society’s way to foods.
By supporting the eater to slow down and savor each bite, mindful eating focuses on the pleasures related to meals, not the rules or the guilt. Plus, it connects the mind and the mouth, making the body more aware that it’s being nourished (and thus more aware when it’s full).
that those who eat mindfully tend to gravitate toward more organic, whole foods within their processed counterparts. They also tend to eat less and have a greater relationship with meals.
“One of the biggest benefits is that you’ll actually start to love yourself, your body and have a really good connection with it,” Ryan stated. “You’re likely to have lots more energy .”
Several Studies Reveal That mindful eating Might Even be a powerful treatment for binge-eating disorders and weight loss,
So what is the catch? Well, carving time out of your day and cutting out distractions to fully experience food is not always sensible.
“It’s rather difficult to just open up that fridge and go, ‘Oh, I need kale,’ when you’re stressed out, had a tough day, it’s 7 o’clock through the night and you haven’t eaten dinner yet. You’re going to likely get takeout.”
And odds are, that takeout will get scarfed down facing Netflix.
Mindful eating doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing, though. If you’re interested in dipping your feet into the Custom, Ryan shares some of her best tips:
Cut out the distractions
When it’s time to eat, closed down the email, switch off the TV and put the phone on silent. Your focus should be on the meals along with all five senses should be plugged into your plate. Dedicate time to your meal — both in terms of preparation and consumption. Savor each bite.
Take a Rest
There’s no need to shovel your salmon in at record pace. The slower you eat, the greater, and focusing on your breath is 1 way to moderate your consumption.
“The first thing I tell everyone to do is just breathe. A great deal of the moment, we are not breathing deeply,” Ryan stated.
Resting the fork on the plate after each bite is 1 way to remind yourself to do this.
“That allows you to take the time to breathe and become mindful. Pick it up if you’re hungry or do not pick it up if you’re really not,” Ryan added.
Chew each bite 15 to 30 times and just eat until you’re about 80 percent full — maybe not stuffed.
Don’t deprive yourself
Mindful eating is about feeding your body what it needs. If that’s a piece of chocolate, do it. A cheeseburger? It’s allowed. That being said, the practice is about balance.
Ryan says if you’re out to dinner and want to order a glass of wine and a dinner, do this, but opt for a fitter entree. Plus, if you’re taking a rest between each bite of your brownie sundae, you may not feel the necessity to finish the whole thing.
End in your favorite
Saving the best for last is another tip of Ryan’s. For instance, if you’re at a cookout along with your favorite thing on the spread would be potato salad, then eat that once you eat the other things on your plate.
Finish your meal on a taste you love may keep you from snacking on different foods, “since you want to maintain that taste, you want to maintain that great feeling,” Ryan stated.
It also will help to create your meal experience a positive one.