Living in a fast-paced society means we’ve grown to really value convenience. Each year Australians spend roughly $45 billion on eating out, and while the numbers suggest we are shifting away from fast food, with nearly 30,000 outlets at our disposal, it’s unlikely they will disappear anytime soon.
From birth, food is a basic human need. Over time, however, the relationship we cultivate with food can morph from sustenance into a much more dangerous territory. Sure, we might submit to the occasional craving for a sweet or salty treat, but for hundreds of thousands of Australians who suffer from serious mental health conditions like binge eating, impulse control becomes virtually impossible.
Mindful eating is a proven technique to restore a healthy relationship with the foods we eat by becoming more aware of the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger.
Mindfulness and mindful eating
Mindful eating is closely linked to something known as mindfulness, a concept which has origins are deeply rooted in Buddhism.
The team at Mindful defines mindfulness as, the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
Put another way, mindfulness is the practice of being in the moment and acutely aware of both our minds and bodies.
Extending this idea to the realm of food involves directing our attention to the actual act of eating and the way it makes us feel. Unhealthy eating habits can stem from a variety of traumas, insecurities, or issues: we might eat to feel comforted, to relieve stress, or to seek out the company of others. Mindful eating allows you to tap into those root causes and, in doing so, make lasting changes to your lifestyle.
The benefits of eating mindfully
There are countless benefits to becoming more mindful about the kinds of foods you consume, but here are a few of our favourites:
- You learn to eat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re full.
- You learn that unhealthy food neither tastes nor makes you feel as good as you once thought.
- You learn how food affects your mood and energy levels.
- You learn what foods help you to carry out the activities that bring you joy, from a sunset run by the river to a game of catch in the park with your kids.
- The farther you move from fatty, fried foods, the more likely you are to lose weight.
How to practice mindful eating
At its core, mindful eating has to do with shifting your eating habits away from automation and towards intention.
You should focus your attention on:
- Why you feel like eating, and what emotions or needs might be triggering this impulse.
- What you’re eating, and whether it’s healthy or not.
- The look, smell, taste and feel of the food you’re eating.
- How food makes you feel before, during, and after eating – both physically and emotionally.
- Where your food came from, and who might have grown or processed it.
The hardest part about habits, of course, is that they are tough to make and easy to break. Will there be cheat days? Probably, and that’s okay. A healthy diet goes a long way to preventing illnesses, but it’s not a bulletproof solution. A healthy look at life insurance can also add peace of mind, and Lifebroker’s easy-to-use Life Insurance Calculator will help you calculate a level of cover you may wish to consider.