Mindful eating is all about being aware while you eat. Eating mindfully involves paying attention to hunger cues, tastes, textures, and colors, and avoiding distractions while you eat. Eating this way will not only allow you to savor each bite and get more enjoyment out of your food but will also help you recognize when you are full. Not savoring your food will make it more difficult to feel full and satisfied with smaller volumes of food.This is especially important after bariatric surgery. Complications after bariatric surgery result from eating too quickly, taking large bites or not chewing thoroughly. This typically occurs when we engage in mindless eating, such as eating while distracted or emotional eating. Emotional eating is when we turn to food for comfort or stress relief instead of satisfying hunger.
Slow down. Often times we eat so fast that we overeat before we even realize we are full. This is because hormonal signals for satiety can take 20 minutes after food is first eaten to reach the brain. If we eat slower, we will have a better chance of eating to our satisfaction rather than to the point of being stuffed. Chewing thoroughly, taking 20-30 chews per bite of food, will greatly help you slow down eating to allow for the satiety signal to reach the brain. Also, when you chew your food properly, you will release more digestive enzymes, increasing nutrient absorption. When food isn’t digested properly, symptoms such as low energy, indigestion, headache or constipation could occur.
Be aware. Learn the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger and determine why you have the urge to eat (see sources: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-susan-albers/hunger_b_7168958.html and http://www.helpguide.org/articles/diet-weight-loss/emotional-eating.htm). Ask yourself if you are physically hungry or emotionally hungry and use apps like MyFitnessPal to aid in tracking what you eat. Also, note what you were doing or feeling before you started eating. This will allow you to recognize eating patterns and identify triggers for mindless eating. Triggers could include anything from eating while at work or driving, eating while watching television, stress, or being overtired.
Savor your food. Pay attention next time when you eat. Notice the smell, taste, and texture of food. Imagine the crunch of a bell pepper, the sweetness of a piece of chocolate cake, and the smell of an orange. Paying attention will lead to greater satisfaction of food, and often times you will find that you don’t need to eat as much because you start to appreciate your food more.
Alternatives to mindless eating. To avoid mindless eating, engage in other activities such as getting up from your desk and going for a walk around the office. Practice meditation (headspace, https://www.headspace.com/, is a great app to start mediation), drink tea or try any of these 100 other activities: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/avoid-mindless-eating.