Mindful eating: eating consciously and better
A new concept has emerged in recent years to revolutionize nutrition: mindful eating.
It is a practice that finds its origin in Zen Buddhism and its relaxing power. It consists of concentrating on the power of food, on the act of eating food, on its enjoyment, on what it makes us feel. It is the perfect complement to a healthy diet.
“Mindful eating is eating with full awareness of the present. It means being present at mealtimes. That is, being aware of the smells, textures, taste, everything that has to do with the act of eating and the physical sensations we receive“, explains Dr Laura Enciso, our psychologist.
There is an obvious relationship between stress and weight gain: simply, compensation mechanisms are activated in our brain, and we need immediate satisfaction, pleasures that balance our anxiety, even if they are fictitious. In short, we tend to eat more, and that unbalances our diet.
Eating consciously, mindful eating can help us extraordinarily not only to calm that stress but to feed ourselves in a much more positive way, knowing what we eat, when we eat it and really enjoy it.
Being aware, being present
With mindful eating we will be perfectly aware of when we are “really” hungry, we will experience a real feeling of satiety that will invite us to stop eating, we will get satisfaction from eating, and we will experience the best sensations and perceptions around that moment of eating.
“By being present we arrive in another state, the process is slowed down, we are much more aware of our environment, of what we are feeling, and we enjoy that moment. We are fully aware“, stresses Dr Laura Enciso.
It is essential to sit at the table relaxed and aware, to concentrate on the act of eating, to focus on the sensation, to chew well on each bite and enjoy it, to abandon any preconceived idea about this or that food…
The benefits of mindful eating
Being aware of the here and now in front of the plate will bring enormous benefits in addition to a healthy diet.
“When we are fully conscious in the act of eating, we obtain better digestions, correct assimilation of the food, we will burn the appropriate calories, it will affect our weight, and we will be aware of whether we are eating because of physical hunger or emotional hunger“, states Dr Laura Enciso.
One of the most obvious consequences is that through mindful eating, we will be able to avoid or reduce binge eating or the act of compulsive eating, for example.
If we get used to conscious eating, we will abandon harmful habits that we perhaps thought were not so bad. Things like eating on the impulse of emotions instead of being guided by the sensation of bodily hunger. Or eating simply because it’s time. Or distracting ourselves at the table with the television, the computer or our own work. Or skipping meals. Or use food as an escape route from low moments.
Food as a mechanism for compensating emotions
Indeed, “using” food as a compensatory element for an emotional crisis or stress is one of the biggest mistakes we can make.
“Emotional hunger can arise to fill gaps. It has to do with situations of stress, anxiety, fear, frustration… We need to fill that void we are feeling, that emotion, and that is what emotional hunger is: we want to escape from what we are feeling, and we do it through food. We eat to escape from that emotion,” says Dr Laura Enciso.