Health Check

Do you eat while driving to work or appointments? While on the phone or reading the mail? While watching TV or even when you’re not hungry? When you are lonely or sad or stressed? Have you lost track of your hunger and fullness feelings? Has mindless eating gotten a hold on you?

The New York Times published “Mindful Eating as Food for Thought” over a year ago on February 7, 2012 that continues to excite many nutritionists and others, sparking additional research about what they call “mindless eating.” These key points are worth wrapping your mind around.

Mindless eating leads to overeating. I’m thinking about this idea as I stand at the kitchen window watching the birds feeding. I’m eating sunflower seeds out of an open package. I’ve lost track of how many I’ve eaten! Losing that awareness can lead to overeating, unnecessary calories, and guilt from eating too much.

Mindful eating can help heal this break between our body and mind. Mindful eating is not a diet or restriction. It’s a healthy habit that begins with the next morsel of food we put between our lips.

Purpose and awareness are keys to mindful eating. The purpose of eating is to nourish ourselves. This is more than simply stuffing food in our mouth to stop the growling of our stomach. We need to be purposeful about what, when and how we eat.

We are often distracted by the social part of eating, forgetting to be aware of the process. Pay attention to each bite. Become aware of the smell, the taste, the texture, how it looks, and the colors. Think about where your food came from. Think about how it got to your plate. Chew on it. Check your level of fullness.

Avoid boredom snacking and multitasking while eating. Make mealtimes an occasion to check in with yourself, your family or friends. Turn off the TV and ringers. Tune into your food and those around you. This doesn’t have to be in silence, but can be. Ask yourself, ‘Does my body need this? Am I eating this just because I’m sad, stressed, or tired? How will this food help or hurt me? How did this food get here and who do I have to thank for it?’ Food has sustained us through another day. That’s a gift that demands our awareness.

Choose Health, mindfully!

University of the South students Ben Almassi and Linnea Carner contributed to th

Posted on Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 2:24 pm