What is MIndful Eating?
Mindful eating is a skill that has roots in traditional practices of mindfulness, a philosophy that has existed for many centuries and has been a practice of many religions. Mindfulness itself is the skill of intentionally focusing one’s attention on the present moment. Mindfulness in the context of eating means intentionally focusing your attention on the experience of eating. This technique focuses on the whole-body experience of eating including body-related sensations, thoughts, and feelings about food, and aims to reduce judgment associated with eating. Practicing mindful eating means using your physical senses to be present in the experience of eating. Mindful eating is a practice that can be used to complement any eating pattern and is a powerful tool that can be used to help support one’s nutrition and lifestyle goals.
How do I practice mindful eating?
Many techniques can be utilized when practicing mindful eating, and getting started is simple. Here are some key steps to practice when implementing mindful eating into your daily routine:
1. Eat in a quiet environment with no distractions (turn off your phone, TV, radio, etc. during meals to eliminate noise).
2. Take small bites, chew each bite thoroughly, and do not rush your meal.
Notice the sounds, smells, tastes, colors, and textures of the food and focus on how you feel when eating.
3. Pause periodically to engage your senses and ask yourself questions (how does the food smell? How does the food taste? How does the texture of the food feel in your mouth? Is there anything about the food you particularly like or dislike?).
4. Pay attention to any sensations or feelings that come up during the meal. It may be helpful to write these sensations and feelings down after you are done eating or reflect on them after your meal.
5. Let your hunger and satiety cues guide your eating. Eat when you are hungry and stop eating when you are full.
For some people, it may be helpful to pick one meal per day to focus on eating mindfully. Once you feel confident in implementing mindful eating practices during one meal, you can try to incorporate the habit of eating mindfully into all meals and snacks.
What is the impact of mindful eating on insulin resistance?
Research suggests that mindful eating has the potential to improve eating behaviors by decreasing automatic patterns of eating as well as disordered eating behaviors which, in turn, may help to regulate blood glucose levels and positively impact insulin sensitivity. Additionally eating slowly, mindfully, and according to hunger and satiety cues, mindful eating may help to align the amount of food you eat (your energy intake) with the amount of food your body needs (your energy needs), thereby improving weight and glycemic management. There are key mindful eating practices that may directly or indirectly improve blood sugar management and prevent insulin resistance. These practices include eating meals slowly, paying attention to the sensory properties of your meal, reflecting on and accepting thoughts and feelings concerning food and eating, decentering your thoughts from being food-related, and letting your hunger and satiety cues guide your eating.
Are there any other benefits to mindful eating?
In addition to preventing insulin resistance, mindful eating has been shown to have many other benefits when practiced regularly including: Increased sense of control around eating. Improved mental health and psychological well-being. Increased enjoyment of eating. Improved feelings of self-efficacy. Reduced overeating behaviors. Increased body satisfaction.
Mindful eating is a practice which has many proven benefits including decreased insulin resistance, improved glycemic management, increased sense of control around eating, improved mental health and psychological well-being, increased enjoyment of eating, improved feelings of self-efficacy, reduced overeating behaviors, and improved body image.
If you are looking for individualized support regarding practicing mindful eating or preventing insulin resistance, make sure to speak with your doctor or registered dietitian for individualized advice.