Eating Mindfully for National Nutrition Month
March is National Nutrition Month and the theme this year is savoring the flavor of eating right. As an integrative dietitian, a few things that come to mind when I think about what that means. Initially, it makes me think of how using a variety of spices and trying different ethnic foods is a healthy way to introduce some excitement to the diet.
Then, I think about the word savor, and I think about how the food environment we live in these days doesn’t always allow time to savor the foods we eat. We are often eating breakfast on the go (or simply skipping breakfast altogether), eating lunch at our desk in front of a computer, and eating fast food or pre-packaged meals for dinner in between activities or in front of the television. This is mindless eating and is often the culprit of eating too much, eating when we’re not hungry, and making poor food choices, because we are simply too distracted to pay attention. It can often also result in guilt for the food choices and amount of food we are eating.
Food is a beautiful thing that is meant to be savored and eaten mindfully. Eating mindfully involves focusing on the present moment while engaging in your hunger and fullness cues without judgement. It involves minimizing distractions in order to allow you to use all of your senses while eating.
Eating mindfully can help us make more thoughtful (and healthful) food choices, while reducing guilt and recognizing when we’re hungry, satisfied, or full. In addition, a recent research study looked at the effect of mindful eating beyond this. They found that, obese adults who practiced mindful eating showed improvements in certain cardiometabolic markers related to type 2 diabetes and heart disease. This research calls for more mindfulness around food and eating, regardless of changes or maintenance in weight.
So, for this National Nutrition Month, I am asking you to wake up a little earlier to allow time to sit down for a well-balanced breakfast; step away from the computer and eat lunch outside or with friends or co-workers; and put away your smart phone, turn off the TV, and sit at the dinner table. Focus on the flavors of the food you are eating, why you are eating, and how the food you are eating is satisfying your hunger. And get your friends and family involved too!
If you want to learn more about mindful eating and how it can help you achieve your goals, make an appointment with me, Lauren Larson, MS, RDN, at the Colorado Center of Health and Nutrition by calling (970) 372-1277 or scheduling online!
Wiley. “Can mindful eating help lower risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease?
New research suggests mindfulness could improve glucose levels, heart health.”
ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 March 2016.