Mindfulness & Food
Did you know that we make on average around 300 food decisions every day?! No wonder quite often these decisions are made mindlessly and it’s quite easy to get to the end of a packet of crisps or a cup of tea without realising we have got through it!
Our brains are not designed to focus on loads of things at the same time and that often means that when we are choosing food, preparing it and even eating it our brains are elsewhere. With food being one of the human races greatest pleasures (well in my opinion anyway!) it seems like such a waste to not really fully immerse ourselves in its delights and really enjoy every last bite.
This is where mindfulness comes in. There have been a variety of studies that have shown that mindfulness (and consequently mindful eating) can increase enjoyment of food. Following a mindful raisin exercise (Like in session one of the Valleys Steps ‘Introduction to Mindfulness Course’) participants in one study showed greater enjoyment of chocolate and even the less loveable raisin (1). It has also been found that a mindfulness session could increase enjoyment of foods that were previously disliked, (2) which is great for those ‘fussy eaters’ or those who wished they enjoyed eating more health boosting vegetables!
Alongside enjoyment, being ‘mindful’ has also been found to reduce calorie intake. One study compared two groups eating habits after a 15 minute relaxation session and a 15 minute mindfulness session and interestingly, those completing the mindfulness session ate 24% less calories than the relaxation group in a food exercise after (3).
So what does this mean to us? Well, this means that there is evidence to suggest that through mindfulness practice, we have the potential to take more control on our eating habits. We could potentially be more aware of the food we choose to eat and could enjoy every last bite more than before. For those who are looking to lose weight, mindfulness could even help you to eat fewer calories which alongside healthy practices like exercise can even support weight loss.
So what are some practical tips to support mindful eating?
- Try and get into a regular routine of being mindful. Whether that is every time you brush your teeth, once a day on your walk into work or even through a more formal ‘meditation’ practice, get into the habit. Little moments of mindfulness throughout the day all really help to make us naturally more ‘present’.
- Get rid of any distractions. Try and remove any distractions when you are eating so you are more likely to be mindful of your food. Try to switch off the TV, put your phone out of reach and just focus on what you are eating. What can you smell? What are the tastes? What textures can you feel in your mouth? Get noticing!
- Take time before every meal to think of where your food has come from. Think about all the people who have been involved in the picking, processing, transporting and even selling the food just for you. Be grateful for their time and effort and for how the food will give you the energy you need to get through the day. Chances are these thoughts will further improve your eating experience and hopefully even shift you into a happier mindset for the rest of the day.
If you want further support with mindful eating or simply more advice in knowing what foods choices are best for your body and mental wellbeing, please follow @MindNourishing on facebook @Mind_Nourishing on Instagram or go to www.mindnourishing.com where there are different options for 1:1 nutritional therapy support.
- Arch, J., Brown, K., Goodman, R., Della Porta, M., Kiken, L. and Tillman, S. (2016). Enjoying food without caloric cost: The impact of brief mindfulness on laboratory eating outcomes. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 79, pp.23-34.
- Hong, Phan Y., Lishner, D.A., Han, K.H (2012). ‘Mindfulness and Eating: An Experiment Examining the Effect of Mindful Raisin Eating on the Enjoyment of Sampled Food.’ Mindfulness, vol. 5, no. 1, 2012, pp. 80–87., doi:10.1007/s12671-012-0154-x.
- Jordan, C.H., Wang, W., Donatoni, L. and Meier, B.P. (2014) ‘Mindful eating: Trait and state mindfulness predict healthier eating behavior’, Personality and Individual Differences, 68, pp. 107–111. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2014.04.013
By Laura Perry