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20 Jan, 2023

Mindful Eating in 6 Steps

Mindfulness. Perhaps a buzzword, but an important one nonetheless. What is mindful eating? And how do we do it? How does it benefit us and our body? Here's what, how and why broken down into 6 steps ...

  1. First things first, try and be mindful around when you eat. This means having nutritionally-balanced prepared food so you are likely to make the better choice for your body when you are out and about or time-poor. You can find lots of recipes on our blog that are balanced to perfect and avoid anti-inflammatory, processed ingredients that can upset your gut health. Too busy to prep and cook ahead? Our meal deliveries are there to deliver fresh, perfectly-portioned, nourishing meals directly to your doorstep before the start of the day providing all the food and drink you need for the day, including juices, snacks and desserts. We have a whole host of options to suit different health goals, dietary preferences and lifestyles. Check out our options here.
  2. Next, be mindful of your body’s hunger signals. Do you really need to eat yet or are you just having a meal because you feel you should? If your schedule allows, it’s important to listen and respond to your body when it tells you too. If you feel peckish, have a glass of water. If you still feel the hunger cues, this is the time to replenish. Intermittent fasting - leaving as much time as your body allows between meals - is good for you as it allows your digestive system a break, which is needed to build gut health. It may be that all you need is a drink to make you feel satisfied. On the flip side, if you are feeling hungry, don’t ignore it. Feed your body when it needs it, otherwise your energy and blood sugar levels will be disrupted, and you won’t find yourself eating more than you need to which is common when you are starved of nutrients.
  3. Take a moment to consider the colours and variety on your plate before you start eating. Count how many different plant-foods you have, and how many different colours there are. You should aim for 5-10 different plant food varieties for each meal, from vegetables to fruits, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices. It may seem like a basic activity but it will get you into the mindset of intuitively eating enough variety. A variety of plant based foods is effective in promoting a diverse ecosystem of beneficial bacteria to support both human gut microbiome and overall health. Literature suggests that we should be aiming to eat over 30 different types of plants per week. Colour is also important as not only does this hint at variety but the more colour a vegetable has, the more pytonutrients it is likely to have too. Reds include lycopene, quercetin, anthocyadins; blue and purple include flavanoids, resveratrol and phenolics; yellows and orange means beta-carotene, lutein, beta cryptoxanthin; and white includes glucosinolates.
  4. Eat slower and chew more. Take a small mouthful. Consider all the textures and flavours in each bite. Appreciate the food you have. Swallow and pause. Put your cutlery down. We recommend taking a sip of water with every 3-4 mouthfuls. Perhaps even consider even swapping your fork for chopsticks? This will encourage you to eat slower and more mindfully, meaning you are likely to feel satisfied when you have eaten enough rather than too much food. Research also shows that eating with chopsticks lowers the glycemic index of the food you consume, due to the nature of how you eat with them. Your glycemic index indicates how fast your blood sugar levels rise, it is important to keep it as low as possible.
  5. Similarly, try not to distract yourself with anything (especially screens and technology) when eating. If you are distracted, you are again likely not to be attuned to your bodily intelligence and as a result will eat beyond being satisfied. If you don’t have anything in front of you whilst you eat, you are likely to appreciate the food and the way it makes you feel. Being present with your food should help you relax and disassociate food from any intense emotions, which can be negative for your mental health. Stress has a direct link to your gut and so being present will help your digestion too. Read more here on the connection between the gut and the brain, according to nutritional therapist Eve Kalinik.
  6. Lastly, sometimes it might help to eat with others. Spending time with those we like being around naturally boosts our oxytocin levels and endorphins, both natural pain-relievers for our body. In fact, endorphins are opioids and are chemically related to morphine, produced by the brain and give you an opiate high. Likewise, when we eat something we enjoy, this triggers endorphins, along with the release of dopamine. More happy hormones equals reduced cortisol levels, and consequently better digestive health!
Discover more on our healthy, fresh food delivery services here. And more of our recipes here.