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Posts Tagged ‘mindful eating’

When was the last time you paid attention to something you ate?

That might seem like a silly question, but all too often, we rush through our meals and snacks without stopping to think about what we’re doing: how our food looks, smells and tastes. I have to admit, even as a dietitian and food educator, I am just as guilty as the next person! I often eat lunch at my desk while working, since my office does not have a formal break room or lunch hour. Consequently, because my mind is focused on tasks other than eating, I consume my lunch without noticing its taste, appearance or texture.

pasta-salad-1967501_1920One day while eating lunch at my desk, though, I was struck by the saltiness of an olive in a bite that I took of Mediterranean pasta salad. The taste caused me to pause, eat my lunch one bite at a time, and pay more attention to the dish. In this instance, I was practicing mindful eating.

Mindful eating is a form of mindfulness, which is the practice of paying attention in the present moment without judgement. Mindful eating is the practice of being more aware of your eating habits, the sensations you experience as you eat (tastes, smells, textures, etc.) and the thoughts and emotions you have about your food. When you eat mindfully, you:

  • Use all your senses
  • Acknowledge your responses to food (i.e. like, dislike or neutral) without judgement
  • Become aware of hunger and satiety (fullness) cues

When you practice mindful eating, you allow yourself to choose to eat food that is both satisfying and nourishing to your body. And, not only do mindful eaters tend to enjoy their food more than distracted eaters; research suggests that mindful eating can help with weight control and also steer people away from processed food and other less-healthful food choices. The underlying premise here is that it takes approximately 20 minutes for the brain to catch up with the stomach and register fullness after eating, so slowing down your eating may help you to realize when you’re full before you overeat.

If you tend to eat too quickly and need some strategies to slow down, try: cutlery-908480_1280

  • Eating with your non-dominant hand
  • Putting your fork down between bites
  • Taking a sip of water between each bite
  • Using chopsticks if you don’t normally use them
  • Putting away cell phones and other electronic devices
  • Practicing gratitude for your food as you think about where it came from and all the people who worked to bring it to you
  • Eating with others and having a conversation over your meal

 

Sources:

Carter, S. (2013). Mindful Eating. Live Healthy, Live Well blog. https://livehealthyosu.com/2013/10/21/mindful-eating/

Harvard Health Letter (2011). Mindful Eating. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/mindful-eating

University of New Hampshire, Office of Health Education and Promotion. Mindful Eating. https://www.unh.edu/health/ohep/nutrition/mindful-eating

 

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Shannon Carter, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

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Have you ever finished eating your lunch or dinner and could barely remember what you had just eaten? Could you identify the tastes and textures?  Has your stomach ever felt uncomfortable after you quickly gobbled down a sandwich or meal? Do you eat in the car or in front of the television or computer screen?

Many of us are often are distracted or in a hurry when eating and don’t give the simple act of chewing much thought. Does proper chewing of our food lead to better digestion?  Yes!  Healthy digestion and absorption of nutrients starts with the basic act of chewing our food. As you chew your food, digestive enzymes are released into the stomach to help your body convert the food into energy.

There are many benefits of chewing your food properly:

  • Absorb more nutrients – smaller particles are easier for our bodies to digest.
  • Enjoy and taste your food – proper chewing forces you to slow down and enjoy the flavors.
  • Maintain a healthy weight – it takes time for your brain to tell your stomach that you are full, so taking longer to chew each bite may help you control how much you eat.
  • Care for your teeth – the saliva that is produced from chewing helps wash away bacteria from your teeth and it gives the bones holding your teeth in place some exercise.
  • Reduce the risk of bacterial overgrowth in the colon – this can help prevent bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and other digestive problems.

 

So, how many times should you chew your food? That depends on what you are eating!

Its common sense that soft food like fruits and some vegetables break down more easily than a steak. Some experts suggest 5-10 chews for soft food and up to 30 for denser foods.

Here are some more specific guidelines for proper chewing:

  • Start with smaller bites
  • Chew slowly
    • Most of the food should be liquefied in your mouth
  • Swallow completely before the next bite
  • Limit the amount of liquids you consume while eating

The Harvard Health Letter discusses the concept of “mindful eating” where you can apply some of the ideas above to help prevent health issues and increase your enjoyment of food. This method also emphasizes the importance of limiting your distractions!  Turn off the TV and computer while eating and enjoy your food!

 

Author:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Franklin County

Reviewed by:  Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Franklin County

Cavuto, K. (2015). 5 Reasons You Should Chew Your Food. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2015/03/10/5-reasons-you-should-chew-your-food

Mercola (2013). 7 Important Reasons to Properly Chew Your Food. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/07/31/chewing-foods.aspx

Harvard Health Letter (2011). Mindful Eating. http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/mindful-eating

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Four year olds can be frustrating at times especially when it comes to eating. I can remember when my four year old daughter would simply refuse to eat at the dinner time. “I’m not hungry daddy” she quipped as she would play with her food. As a parent I would have a few options a.) make her stay at the table until she finishes her plate, b.) send her to bed without supper, or c.) put her food in the refrigerator for later. The correct answer is “c.”

In most cases, children, toddlers and infants are actually better “intuitive eaters” than adults. In other words, they respond better to hunger and fullness cues. Unfortunately for adults, our eating habits have been corrupted by our environments. How so?

  • We grew up in the “clean plate club.” Our moms and dads made us finish everything on our plates. Today, portion sizes keep getting bigger (in 2050 a regular soda at the movies will fill a water cooler jug if current trend continues) and these values, although helpful during times of hardship, might contribute to eating too much.

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  • We eat to cope with emotions. When food is plentiful, we eat when we are stressed or bored. Although this behavior is normal in moderation, it is problematic if it happens too much.
  • We eat too quickly. This was a problem in my family growing up- my dad and I would finish before my mom sat down at the table. Today, our environment promotes fast eating. We have only so much time at work for lunch and our children, in some cases, have only ten to fifteen minutes to eat at school. Eating quickly does not allow us to respond to our fullness cues and again we might eat too much.
  • We skip meals all together. Many skip breakfast and lunch and eat only one meal a day. By the time dinner arrives, well let’s just say horses better hide! Sometimes, people can eat more in one meal than eating smaller meals throughout the day.
  • We go on extreme weight loss diets. In a culture of “thinness” the temptation is to go on diets where food is restricted and hunger cues are ignored. For many this promotes obesity because the body may become more efficient at converting food to fat when normal eating patterns return after the diet.
  • We practice “distracted” eating. We eat when we drive; we eat in front of the T.V.  and at events. In these situations, we are distracted from our hunger and fullness.

According to the CDC, obesity and associated chronic diseases such as diabetes are growing problems in all demographic groups. Although the etiology of problem is complex, our environment that discourages intuitive eating is a factor. We eat way too much and do not get enough physical activity. According to “Health for Every Body” developed by University of Missouri Extension, there are several things that families can do to promote intuitive eating for health and wellness:

  • Avoid distracted eating by encouraging family meals. According to Thriving Newsletter by University of Missouri Extension, several studies have demonstrated that families that eat together at the table actually are healthier.
  • Avoid extreme weight loss diets. Rather, set behavior goals rather than weight goals. For example try to set a weekly walking goal than a goal to lose 10 pounds in a week. In addition, your children will not model your dieting which could potentially lead to an eating disorder.
  • Eat breakfast. Research clearly shows that those who eat breakfast have better health outcomes.
  • Slow down. Put your utensils down between bites. Pay attention to your hunger and fullness.
  • Pay attention to emotional eating. Find other healthy behaviors such as walking to replace food. Snack on healthy food such as fruits or vegetables.

Dan Remley, MSPH, PhD

Assistant Professor, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness

OSU Extension

 

Reviewed by Susan Zies, Extension Educator

OSU Extension, Wood County

Sources: A New You: Health for Every Body, University of Missouri Extension

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Do you eat while watching TV? Or in front of your computer?  Or while working? Recent research has indicated that distracted eatindistractedg can lead to increased calorie consumption. Several of these studies compared two groups of eaters – those who ate in front of the TV and those who didn’t. The basic findings were that those who ate while watching TV tended to consume more calories at that meal; and those who paid attention to their meal tended to consume fewer calories at a later meal.

There is a mind body connection when it comes to eating. Your awareness of the food you’re consuming is one of the cues your body uses to decide how soon to be hungry again. If you are oblivious to what you’re eating, it is not only easier to over-consume at that meal, you also tend to get hungry again sooner because you don’t recall having eaten.

imagesThe opposite of distracted eating is to be mindful or attentive to what you are eating. Unplug the computer, TV, etc. and eat at the table. Take time to set the table with silverware and plates, maybe even candles! Eat at a slower pace. In fact, you can try to eat a normal-sized meal taking at least 20 minutes, since that is the time it takes for your brain to get the message that your stomach is full.

To slow down:

  • Eat with your non-dominant hand.
  • Put your fork down between bites.
  • Take a sip of water between each bite.
  • Notice the color, smell, texture, temperature and taste of your food.
  • Take small bites and savor them.
  • Put away cell phones and other electronic devices.
  • Have pleasant conversations with family, friends or co-workers during your meal.

The benefits of attentive eating are not only consuming fewer calories, but also increasing the likelihood that you’ll eat healthier food and enjoy it more!

Writer: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County.

Reviewers:  Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County and Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County

Sources:

Harvard Medical School, Harvard Health Publications, LeWine. “Distracted Eating May Add to Weight Gain.” Retrieved 9-16-2013 from: http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/distracted-eating-may-add-to-weight-gain-201303296037

Daily Mail, Health Home, Innes. “Why eating in front of the TV makes you fat: You consume 25% more LATER in the day without realizing.” Retrieved 9-15-2013 from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2295303/Why-eating-TV-makes-fat-You-consume-25-LATER-day-realising.html#ixzz2ehZG1Mu8

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