Eating well is about more than just the foods you eat; it’s about how you eat them. In today’s fast-paced world, it’s all too common for people to eat while working, driving, or watching television. These distractions can lead to people mindlessly eating, not paying attention to what or how much they’re consuming.
Mindful eating is a relatively new technique that focuses on practicing mindfulness (being aware and present) while you eat, helping you gain control over your eating habits and fully enjoy the dining experience.
At Origin Active Lifestyle Communities, we take dining and nutrition seriously. Offering independent living, assisted living, and memory care at communities throughout western Canada, we’re sharing some information about mindful eating and how it can benefit your life.
What is Mindful Eating?
Based on the ancient Buddhist practice of mindfulness, mindful eating is about paying attention to the moment and being aware of physical sensations. Mindful eating allows you to pay attention to what you’re eating, why you’re eating, where you’re eating, and how much you’re eating. There are other aspects of mindful eating as well, including:
- Starting with a smaller portion
- Eating slowly and chewing thoroughly, setting your utensils down after every bite
- Limiting distractions while eating
- Paying attention to the taste, texture, and temperature of the food
- Only eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full
Benefits of Mindful Eating
While the purpose of mindful eating is not about counting calories or losing weight, people who adopt this technique do tend to lose weight. Other benefits of mindful eating include:
- Positively impacts your behaviour and relationship with food
- Reduces emotional eating and binge eating
- Encourages healthier responses to stress and boredom
- Allows you to make healthier choices with food and nutrition
- Gives a better understanding of your body’s needs
- Appreciate food
How Do I Practice Mindful Eating?
As with any significant habit changes, it’s easiest to start small. You can begin by first observing your current eating habits. Do you eat in front of the TV? Do you rush through a meal and don’t even remember what it tasted like afterward? Do you find yourself looking for snacks simply because you’re bored? By paying attention to your current relationship with food, you can become more aware of what habits need to be changed. Here are some simple tips to start mindful eating:
- Make a weekly meal plan and go grocery shopping once a week. Doing this will help you make healthier choices when it comes to meals—by knowing what you’ll be eating every night, you won’t crave impulse take-out or frozen meals.
- When sitting down for a meal, turn off the TV, phone, and other distractions.
- Set a timer for 20 minutes and use that time to eat your meal. If you still rush through your meal, try eating with chopsticks or using your utensils in your non-dominant hand.
- Take small bites and chew thoroughly. To focus on chewing even more, you can count your chews.
- Fully experience the tastes, textures, aromas, and colours of your food. Think about all the work that went into getting this food on your plate.
- Stop eating when you feel full. Sometimes, the brain can take up to 20 minutes to realize the stomach is full, so give your body time to process these cues.
- Every time you feel like opening the fridge or pantry, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” If the answer is no, distract yourself by going on a walk or reading a book.
- Remember, it’s all about balance. There’s nothing wrong with eating a bowl of popcorn while watching a movie or grabbing a protein bar on your way to run errands. As long as you have a solid foundation of healthy habits, it’s okay to enjoy comfort food every once in a while.
Dining Experience at Origin Communities
Origin takes a one-of-a-kind approach to nourishment and dining. At our senior living communities, dining isn’t just about serving three meals a day—it’s an entire experience. Our chefs take a careful approach in crafting nutrient-dense, quality meals made from locally-sourced ingredients. We consider every individual’s unique needs, preferences, and restrictions to create a personalized experience. Each chef genuinely cares not only about what they do but who they’re doing it for.
The dining experience at Origin also creates a warm, social environment. Here, community members are served in a fine-dining restaurant setting while safely spending time with each other and sharing stories from their days. Our team members also focus on ensuring community members’ healthy eating habits and encouraging habits like mindful eating and food appreciation.
Mindful eating is a valuable habit that encourages wellness, appreciation, and intention. We encourage you to implement this healthy habit into your lifestyle!
Origin Active Lifestyle Communities has independent living, assisted living, and memory care communities in British Columbia and Alberta. To find a community near you, we invite you to visit our website!