Yoga and Mindful Eating

One of the many benefits of practicing yoga is you start to become more mindful and focused on the present moment.

Mindfulness allows you to take notice to how your body is feeling, your thoughts, and your behavior. Like yoga, it’s a way to connect your body, mind, and spirit.

When you begin to eat mindfully, you are able to slow down and notice how food affects your body. You realize what gives you energy and what does not. You start to notice how food taste and smells. You might even realize that certain foods you’ve always eaten doesn’t taste good anymore.

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The Benefits of Eating Slowly

Eating slowly is a tool used in a mindful eating approach. It allows to really focus on what it is we’re eating and how that food makes us feel.

Benefits of eating slowly

 
 
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Satisfaction

Eating slowly allows us to fully experience and enjoy our foods. Foods are not only meant to fuel us, but also to give us joy. By eating slowly, we are able to appreciate the flavors, smells, texture, and colors of our foods.

There is joy to be found in even the simplest foods.

 

Better digestion

Eating slowly improves our digestion.

There are many steps to digestion. Many people believe we start digesting food once it hits our stomach, but that is not true. We start the digestion process as soon as we smell and see the food.

Once we smell and see the food, we begin producing saliva. The saliva moistens our mouth in preparation for eating and it contains enzymes that helps break down the food, along with chewing.

The secretion of saliva also signals to other parts of our digestive tract, such as our stomach to produce more acid.

Eating quickly doesn’t give our body and brain time to register that it is full. It takes approximately 20 minutes from the start of the meal for the brain to send signals of fullness. It’s usually after we have overeaten that our bodies start to feel discomfort.

 

Eat less

Eating quickly causes people to unintentionally eat more food. Because it takes 20 minutes for the brain to signal fullness, people don’t realize they’re full and take in too many calories. Overtime, this causes weight gain.

 

More control

People that binge eat often have an overwhelming and uncontrollable desire to eat. During these episodes they rapidly eat an excessive amount of food and often feel out of control and guilt.

One way to battle binge eating is to slow down. If you feel a binge coming on or in the middle of a binge, if you can, try to stop and take 5 deep belly breaths. Afterwards, walk away or if you’re eating a meal, make a conscious effort to slow down.  

Eating slowly will give you a sense of control and prevent overeating. So, how you eat slowly?

Below are my top tips on how to eat slowly:

  • Eat with your non-dominate hand.

  • Put down utensils when chewing food.

  • Drink a sip of water in between bites.

  • Use chopsticks to eat your food.

  • Set aside time to eat and use a timer for at least 20 minutes.

  • Enjoy a conversation with family and friends.

  • If you start to eat fast, put down your utensils and take a minute or two to refocus and slow down.

  • Add raw vegetables or fruit to your meal. It takes more time to chew raw produce than it does cooked produce.

 

What are your tips for eating slower?

Mindful Eating

One of the many benefits of practicing yoga is you start to become more present and mindful. You worry less about what happened in the past or what will happen in the future and focus on what is happening right now.

Mindfulness brings awareness to what is around you and what is going on inside you. You start to notice how your body is feeling, your thoughts, and your behavior.

When you’re mindful of the foods you eat, you identify how different foods affect your body and you react accordingly. You start eat foods that give you energy. You begin to eat slower and recognize when you are full. And, you identify cravings from hunger.

There are many benefits to mindful eating, such as weight loss, reducing binges, and improving digestion.

Listed below are a few ways to start eating mindfully.

 
 
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 Cravings vs Hunger

When you start craving a food, slow down and ask yourself if it is a craving or are you hungry. Instead of reacting automatically, take a few minutes to tune in to how you are feeling. Drink a glass of water. Are you still having cravings or are you hungry?

Another way to tell if you’re having cravings or are hungry, is to eat a bowl of vegetables. If you’re hungry, then the vegetables will fill you up. If you’re still craving a specific food, identify what it is your craving, and eat a small portion of it after you eat a bowl of vegetables. The vegetables will fill you up and prevent you from eating too much of what it is you are craving.  

 

Limit distractions

Eating while distracted, such as watching tv or working, has shown to increase the amount of food people eat. When we’re not fully aware of what we are eating, we don’t process that information and are soon reaching for more food. Mindful eating forces us to appreciate the different flavors, smells, and colors of our meals.

 

Eat Slowly

When we eat fast, our bodies don’t have enough time to register it is full. It takes approximately 20 minutes for our brains to receive the signal that we’re full. It’s usually after we have overeaten that our bodies start to feel discomfort.

Eating slowly without distractions will help you tune into how your body feeling. So, how do you eat slowly? One way is to set your utensil down while chewing or take a drink of water in between bites. Having a conversation with friends and family will also help you eat slower.

To begin experimenting with mindful eating, choose one meal to focus on. Once you get the hang of it, add another meal. Continue in this fashion until you feel confident with mindful eating.

Mindful eating is a great way to feel in control with what and how much you are eating.