Mindful Eating Habits
March is National Nutrition Month. What exactly does that mean? Every March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics sponsors a campaign on nutrition education. The theme for this year's campaign is Savor the Flavor of Eating Right. From their website, "The theme for 2016…encourages everyone to take time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to our lives." Then it goes on to say, "How, when, why and where we eat are just as important as what we eat. Develop a mindful eating pattern that includes nutritious and flavorful foods - that's the best way to savor the flavor of eating right!" What is mindful eating? And how do mindful eating habits help us stay healthy? These are the questions I want to explore in this article.
Part of mindful eating is being thoughtful or careful about what we eat. We all know that we should eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while consuming less sugar, saturated fats, and processed foods. This is the obvious part of mindful eating. However, I want to focus on the other aspects of mindful eating; specifically, the how, when, and where.
How we eat is more important than I realized. For example, did you know that people who eat slowly generally consume fewer calories? A Japanese study of 1,700 women found that women who ate slower felt full sooner and consumed less calories at meal times. Too often, we rush through our meals, stuffing ourselves as much as possible. Consider taking more time to eat your meals. Chew your food longer. Focus on the flavor, texture, and enjoyment of each bite. It will digest better and you will feel full on fewer calories.
When should we eat? Most of us eat three meals a day-breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the 1960s, nutritionist Adelle Davis said, "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper." There is some truth to this statement. It is very important to eat a healthy, filling breakfast. If you skip breakfast, your body will be too hungry by lunch time, resulting in overeating and feeling tired. If you wait until the end of the day to eat your biggest meal, the calories you consume are more likely to stay with you and be stored as fat. Eating too much at night can also spike your blood sugar and make it difficult to fall asleep. Find balance in your meals. You might also consider eating 5 smaller meals a day to keep your body refueled and full of energy throughout the day.
Where we eat will affect the how and when we eat. If we grab lunch in the drive through and then attempt to eat it in our car while driving back to work, it makes it a little tricky to eat slowly and savor our food. If we eat dinner in front of the TV, we won't be thinking very much about the food and will miss out on the many benefits of eating dinner with our families at the table. Wherever you eat, make sure it's a place where you can focus on your food and the people you share it with.
Monthly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
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