Do you ever find yourself eating snacks while binge-watching your favorite show, and the next thing you know, you’re surrounded by empty food containers? Or do you sometimes eat in a rush so that you could use the remainder of your break time to play your mobile game without realizing how much you have eaten?
As our society becomes more and more advanced, we are faced with too many distractions that draw our full attention away from things that are more worthy of it, such as eating. When you allow these distractions to get in the way, like what happens when you decide to work, read, watch, or fiddle with your mobile phone while eating, you tend not to be fully aware of your food and continue to eat regardless of whether you are already full. This is a classic manifestation of mindless eating.
The habit of mindless eating makes food less satisfying and makes it easier for you to overeat because you tend to miss the cues that tell you that you have eaten enough; one of these cues is seeing how much food you have left on your plate.
In addition, science says that it takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to signal to the brain that it’s full1. This means that if you are eating too quickly or not paying attention while eating, you may be taking in more food than you need because your appetite does not get shut off until you reach the 20-minute mark.
It is also noteworthy that we often have the urge to eat for reasons other than hunger—to satisfy emotional needs, to relieve stress, or cope with unpleasant emotions such as sadness, anxiety, loneliness, or boredom2. When you are not mindful, it will be a lot more difficult for you to differentiate physical hunger and emotional hunger, increasing your chances of overeating during stressful situations and not figuring out the right thing to do.
Mindful eating is “an approach to food that focuses on individuals’ sensual awareness and experience of the food” 3. In essence, mindfully eating means developing an awareness of your experiences, physical cues, and feelings towards food.
Mindful eating can help you to2:
Along with the fundamental dietary changes, practicing mindful eating can be an effective way to become healthier in the long run without having to follow a restrictive diet.
Mindful eating is centered around behavioral changes that are very easy to follow. However, if this practice is entirely a new concept to you, you may want to start gradually by eating one meal a day or week in a slower, more attentive manner. To help you get you started, below are the simple tips3 that you can follow: