Healthy Living

Mindful eating and how it can change your life

Written by Patsy Davis

Mindfulness seems to be the current buzz word in countless wellness websites, social media outlets and self-help books. By now, most of us know that to be mindful is simply to be aware of the “here and now.” But what is mindful eating? What does it mean, and how can this easy adjustment to how we eat positively affect our digestion and, ultimately, our weight? Let’s take a look and figure out what all of the buzz is about.

In the modern world, we often eat for convenience rather than for nutrition. We eat for instant gratification rather than long-term health benefits.

Mindful eating is simply a way of “slow eating,” which actually allows you to experience the tastes and textures of your food rather than wolfing it down in a hurry or snacking on the go.

This way of eating allows us to see the food we eat as medicine that not only nourishes our whole system but also tastes delicious!

Mindful eating is taking the time to honor your food by choosing high-quality, organic food, preparing it with care and eating it slowly and mindfully – using your five senses to really enjoy it.

It means allocating quiet time to prepare and enjoy eating your meal without rushing or multitasking.

Mindful eating is a way of saying to yourself: “I respect my body enough to be mindful of what I put into it and of the way I eat.”

Think of this type of eating as a meditation. It means choosing to be present with your food and the way you eat it.

Eating mindfully helps you to:

  • Sense intuitively when you’re full
  • Gain satisfaction from eating
  • Develop a healthy relationship with food
  • See food as medicine
  • Discover new tastes and textures
  • Improve digestion (less gas and bloating)
  • Discover food sensitivities
  • Create healthy habits that enliven you

I suggest trying mindful eating if you can relate to any of the following scenarios:

  • You feel bloated after eating
  • You eat fast
  • You eat to feel full, not to enjoy the tastes
  • You eat to numb out
  • You want to learn to enjoy healthy food
  • You gain weight easily, especially in your belly
  • You crave sugar or starchy foods
  • You have difficulty focusing
  • You feel lethargic after eating
  • You have allergies or hay fever
  • You feel addicted to eating foods that you know aren’t healthy
  • You have extra pounds that won’t come off with diet and exercise

Try these easy “sense” steps to eat mindfully:

  • Sight: Savor the colors of your food – the beauty of what has come from the earth, the rain and the sun.
  • Smell: Bring the food up to your nose and inhale as if you’ve never smelled it before.
  • Touch: What’s the texture of your food? How about the texture of your utensils? Of the napkin on your lap?
  • Environment
    • What environment are you creating for yourself when you eat? Light candles or use your favorite china. Drink out of a crystal goblet instead of your usual water glass.
    • Turn off email, the television, computers and phones while eating. Make your meal a special time just for you.
  • Texture: Chew your food for about 30 chews. Notice the texture of the food, and remember to breathe while chewing and to put your fork down every 5 to 7 bites.

The adjustment you make from a quick, thoughtless way of eating to a more intentional and mindful way of nourishing your body will help you to discover what triggers you to overeat or binge eat. You can learn how to eat mindfully and with the right foods and habits, you will be on your way to a healthier and more energetic life!

About the author

Patsy Davis

Patsy Davis is the associate director of campus recreation at Augusta University and a certified health coach. She serves as the principal point of contact for coordination of wellness activities for students and also as a key leader and advocate for comprehensive attention to student wellness. Patsy proudly promotes student development and learning though supervising a student staff that provides operational and administrative support for the Augusta University Jaguar Wellness Center.

Patsy strongly believes in serving as an advocate for healthy choices. Her emphasis on mindfulness-based stress reduction is a cornerstone of her programming and the basis for her supervision style. Her professional experience as a certified health coach provides opportunities to positively influence the overall wellness of students, faculty and staff.

Patsy has been employed by the university since 2008. She received her bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the College of Charleston. She enjoys practicing yoga and playing tennis. She lives in Aiken, South Carolina with her husband, Mike and their two dogs, Pearl and Hazel.

1 Comment

  • I loved your article thank you for keeping us mindful about what we are eating and how food affects our entire health!