Advice from a Dietitian. Part 3 of 4: Mindful Eating
So now that we have talked about why carbohydrate ingestion and pushing fluids daily is important, we will switch gears a bit for part 3 of our 4-post series:
When we were infants, we cried when we were hungry and stopped eating when we were satisfied. Unfortunately, as we grow up in this busy world, we somehow lose track of how to stay in tune with our body’s hunger cues. Most people seem to eat out of habit or even boredom, and often times eat while distracted and multitasking. So what is the big issue with eating during other tasks? Digestion involves the gut and nervous system sending a series of hormonal signals, and typically takes about 20 minutes to register feelings of satisfaction. If we are distracted while eating, we might stuff our faces so quickly that we do not sense a feeling of satiety until long after we have already overeaten. Multiply this by 3 times daily, and we have begun to add tons of excess calories.
So then what is “mindful eating”? Well first, mindfulness is being fully present from one moment to the next, keeping awareness of your surroundings, your emotions, and your physical conditions. Over the last several years, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has incorporated mindfulness in the treatment of several diseases, and has found promising results with management of stress, depression, chronic pain, physical function, and overall quality of life. Mindful eating applies mindfulness techniques to your relationship with food: food choice, quantity, the manner in which it is consumed, and paying attention to both internal and external cues that may influence our desire to eat.
Mindful eating has also been found as a useful alternative approach to extreme dieting and restrictive eating by teaching us how to rebuild a healthy and positive relationship with food. Chronic dieters typically are guided by concerns with weight control when it comes to food intake, rather than the flavor of food. The sensory stimulation that comes with mindful eating, by using our senses when eating both pleasing and nourishing foods, helps us to recognize cues of hunger and satiety. Following this technique has been found to increase overall sense of well being, lower BMI, decrease concerns with ideal body type, and can lower the likelihood of eating disorders.
Some simple ways we can start to get back in tune with our body via mindful eating are: turn off all other distractions such as television or social media, set a kitchen timer for 20 minutes to enjoy your meal, chew thoroughly and really try to recognize the flavors and textures of your food, put your fork down in between bites or eat with your non-dominant hand, and pay attention to how you feel with each bite. Occasionally you can stop to think, “Am I really still hungry, or am I just eating because the food is in front of me?” Try making at least one of your meals per day a mindful eating experience and watch how it changes your relationship with food.
About the author:
Meagan began training at SAA a few years ago looking to learn the Olympic lifts. She started with a blank slate and learned to trust the process as our coaches worked on her technique and strength. As a Registered Dietitian, she has been able to fuel herself for performance as we programmed for her progression as a weightlifter. Meagan works as a Sport Nutrition Consultant for Renaissance Periodization and spent the last baseball season working for the World Series Champions, Chicago Cubs, as the clubhouse dietitian for their Triple A Minor league affiliate, the Iowa Cubs. Currently, Meagan works for Gatorade Sports Science Institute and is the Sports Dietitian for the Chicago White Sox.
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