Eating can sometimes be seen as a normal activity, and people may not think much about it. One of the most important questions to ask before eating is, Why am I eating? Eating is essential for survival, but sometimes people eat not in response to hunger but because they feel bored, sad or lonely. Human beings learn habits like emotional eating due to poor coping mechanisms. The mind is, thus, tuned to associate boredom, anxiety, sadness, and loneliness with food. Mindful eating is tuning the mind to think before food lands in the mouth.
To develop mindful eating, one must identify when they are physically hungry versus when they are emotionally hungry. To do this, assess your feelings after eating by checking for feelings of relief and happiness. If one is physically hungry, then some sense of relief should be felt. Physical hunger develops slowly as one stays longer without eating as opposed to emotional eating which comes on fast. Most of us can’t afford to eat out every day, so learning to eat in moderation and cook for oneself is a developed exercise.
When physically hungry, one is likely to be grumpy, have trouble thinking, experience stomach growls and have a headache while emotional hunger mainly manifests itself through cravings.Cravings usually lead to eating larger volumes of food with feelings of guilt following. Binge eating is mostly done with unhealthy foods; full of fats and sugar. Rarely does one hear of emotional eating without foods like chips, ice cream and biscuits. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of becoming obese and developing eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia.
Mindful eating is a habit that can be developed through eating when hungry. It is more likely that one will eat healthy once they think about how and what they eat. Eating foods rich in folic acid, vitamin A, calcium, vitamin D and potassium, lead to a longer and happier life. It should be noted that obesity is reduced with every bite of vegetables and fruits. Vegetables are rich in nutrients that the body appreciates by producing more energy and positive feelings.
Mindful eating also encompasses introducing coping mechanisms. So when stressed, instead of eating, one can look for a friend to chat with. Eliminating habits like eating while watching the television will reduce emotional eating. To stop boredom, one should introduce hobbies that will improve one’s skills or hang out with friends. Exercises are a great motivator in reducing emotional eating as one is physically hungry after an exercise session and it is a great way of reducing boredom.
To stop emotional eating, a shift in mindset must occur. Unhealthy eating is seen as fun and most believe that this unhealthy food is tasty. Healthy food, on the other hand, is frowned upon and deemed as not delicious or enjoyable. To bring a change to this mindset, it is crucial to look for fun ways to cook healthy food, thus getting the best of both worlds.
Health experts believe that most people eat too much but gain very little nutritional value from the food they eat. Mindful eating should be adopted by all to reduce the adverse effects brought about by emotional eating. Sometimes, one may not know that they are emotionally eating. It is, therefore, important to understand why one is eating and what to eat.