What is mindful eating?

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Andy Puddicombe
Alternative & Complementary Medicine
Eating mindfully is being more aware of the tastes and sensations of the food we taste, which can change our perspective of the experience. In this video, meditation specialist Andy Puddicombe explains how to practice and enjoy mindful eating.
Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics
Mindful eating is eating out of hunger. Or if you eat for other reasons you are able to realize what you are doing and then have conscious control to stop it or not stop it. Mindful eating is awareness about the quality of the food you eat and the quantity. There are no excuses about food since you are in touch with what you are eating.
Edward Phillips
Physical Therapy
Rooted in Buddhist practices, mindfulness teaches us to live each moment as it unfolds, accepting it without judgment. Mindful eating asks you to sidestep distractions and tune into body signals. It also slows you down, a true boon since speed at the table may encourage you to eat more food, according to a study. When 30 women were asked to eat quickly from a large plate of pasta, stopping when they were full, they ate an average of 646 calories in nine minutes. Served the same dish on another day and asked to eat slowly, putting the fork down between each bite, they stopped at an average of 579 calories, eaten in a leisurely 29 minutes. This difference may partly reflect the time it takes for the stomach to transmit a signal of fullness or satiety to the brain. Eating slowly allows this to happen before you've taken in as much food.
Paula Greer
Midwifery Nursing
To answer this question lets first define mindless eating. Mindless eating happens all day long when we eat because we are bored, stressed, because others are eating , whatever the case may be. It happens as we down the whole box of cookies in front of the TV. It happens when we graze at a party. It has nothing to do with eating because we are hungry or because we actually need to refuel at the time we are basically just grazing. Some of us eat to fulfill emotional needs. Usually when we are doing this we are eating mindlessly.

Mindful eating is eating with a purpose. It is eating with awareness of what when and why you are eating. Mindful eating can be taught by therapists to help those of us who are mindlessly eating. If you think mindless eating is a problem for you there are several great self-help books out on mindful eating by Susan Albers, psy.d that I highly recommend. Her first book is EATING MINFULLY and she also has a self help workbook out called EAT, DRINK, AND BE MINDFUL. Here books are a great way to jumpstart your life during TRANSFORMATION NATION.
Mindful eating is not a diet. There are no menus or recipes. It is about being more aware of how you eat. We all have many mindless eating habits. It may be eating lunch at 12:00 on the dot whether you are hungry nor not. Or, it might be sitting in front of the TV mindlessly popping food into your mouth. Often, mindless eating habits are much more subtle like eating the portion size given to you instead of eating to your hunger level.

Mindful eating is helpful because there are no special foods and you don't have to starve yourself. Instead, you learn to use your natural hunger cues to know when to stop and start eating. We often have to relearn these hunger cues because they become skewed by large portion sizes, dieting and eating when you are not truly hungry. The good news: research has shown that mindful eating has been effective in helping people to improve their diet.

To learn more about mindful eating watch this short video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymIm2zxzG3U
Brooke Randolph
Marriage & Family Therapy
Mindfulness is an important technique to learn for relaxation. It basically requires focused attention to a single subject and trying to fully experience that subject. Eating with mindfulness can help you practice relaxation, be more aware of what you are eating, and enjoy your food more thoroughly. Eating with mindfulness will require you to look at your food, smell your food, taste your food, feel the texture of your food in your mouth, and even listen for any sounds made by eating your food.
Ellen Whitehurst
Health Education
In my world I call it eating things that are "Magically Delicious"...It's my own collection of recipes and cures that can transform your life.

Here's an example...Squash Skepticism with This Magically Delicious Crostini!

The mystical, magical and sacred squash is the main focus of an easy app. The squash is actually believed to have been cultivated here in America as early as 4000 B.C. And what we know is that this veg was considered SACRED by the Native Americans with some tribes actually honoring the plant! The prophetic Hopi tribe tells that eating this veg can put you in direct contact with the invisible magic all around. Since astrologically we are coming into some TRULY magical days, well, two plus two equals ABRACADABRA!!

Magical Butternut Squash, Sage and Ricotta Cheese Crostini
Makes 12 servings
Ingredients:
  • 1 2-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into slices (about 4 cups) THE MAGICALLY DELICIOUS STAR!
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil -- divided (keep a bit extra for drizzling!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons light brown sugar, packed
  • Kosher or course sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 21 fresh sage leaves
  • 1/4 cup salted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 12 thick cut baguette slices, brushed lightly with salted butter and toasted
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix together the sliced squash, two tablespoons of the oil and the sugar in a large mixing bowl. Season with the salt and pepper to taste; arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toss occasionally while roasting for 25 - 30 minutes or until squash is golden and brown. Let cool on sheet.
  • Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil in a small skillet over med/high heat and add the sage leaves. Cook for two minutes or until the edges begin to brown and curl. Using a slotted spatula or spoon gingerly transfer to paper towels to drain.
  • Mix the ricotta cheese and lemon zest in a small bowl and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Spread the cheese mixture on the toasted crostini and cover with a few slices of the roasted squash. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil and top each crostini with a few of the fried sage leaves!
ABRACADAYUM!
Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics
Mindful eating is being aware of when you are eating, what you are eating, why you are eating (are you hungry, tired, bored, upset), paying attention to hunger and satiety cues, food triggers, etc. Often in our busy lives, we eat in a distracted manner and mindful eating will take some practice.
Gina M. Biegel
Psychology
People often don’t even notice what they are eating or whether they are still hungry. While they are eating, they may be talking on the phone or doing homework or playing around on the computer. What if you just ate and did nothing else for a change? Mindful eating involves noticing how and what you eat, from one bite to an entire meal. By taking time to eat your food, you can begin to learn what foods actually taste like and which ones you like and dislike.

To try eating mindfully, take three raisins. Look at these raisins as something you have never seen before. Before you begin to eat them, notice what is around you in the room and what thoughts and emotions you have. Now notice your breath as you inhale and exhale a few times.

Set two of the raisins aside and take the third in your hand. Look at what you are about to eat. Think about how it got to you, from being a grape on the vine to now being in your hand. Give thanks for what you are about to eat. How do you feel about putting this raisin into your body? How does your body feel, knowing that you are going to eat?

Use your senses to experience this raisin. Notice what it looks like. Roll it around in your hand; what does it feel like? Hold it to your nose; what does it smell like? Place it near your ear; can you hear anything? If you move it between your fingers, can you hear something now?

Feel the raisin against your lips, then lick your lips and notice the taste it has left. Put the raisin into your mouth without chewing it. Close your eyes, if you like, and let it roll around on your tongue. Put it between your teeth and feel it there, without biting into it yet. Notice any saliva that is present. Pay attention to the change in the raisin’s texture after it has been in your mouth for a bit.

Bite into the raisin, noticing any tastes you experience. Slowly chew it for as long as you can. Right before you swallow, notice what it feels like to want to swallow this raisin. When you are ready, swallow the raisin. Notice that it is now in your body.

If you notice yourself getting distracted by your thoughts, take a moment and refocus on the raisin. Repeat this process with the remaining two raisins.

You can follow these steps with any food of your choosing, from one bite to an entire meal.
The Stress Reduction Workbook for Teens: Mindfulness Skills to Help You Deal with Stress (Instant Help Solutions)

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.