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The importance of mindful eating

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In our fast-paced modern lives, our bodies are constantly on autopilot. We don’t get much time to wind down and appreciate what’s going on around us. Even sleeping is rushed - who honestly gets a full eight hours every night? Definitely not me, that's for sure.

Mindfulness is growing. Once thought only to be practised by wild hippies and yoga teachers, it’s now emerging as a big step to improve mental wellbeing in our daily lives. Here's a nice quote from Professor Mark Williams on the NHS' website about what it actually is:

“Mindfulness also allows us to become more aware of the stream of thoughts and feelings that we experience, and to see how we can become entangled in that stream in ways that are not helpful. This lets us stand back from our thoughts and start to see their patterns. Gradually, we can train ourselves to notice when our thoughts are taking over and realise that thoughts are simply ‘mental events’ that do not have to control us. Most of us have issues that we find hard to let go and mindfulness can help us deal with them more productively. We can ask: ‘Is trying to solve this by brooding about it helpful, or am I just getting caught up in my thoughts? Awareness of this kind also helps us notice signs of stress or anxiety earlier and helps us deal with them better.”

I’ve heard about the concept of mindfulness, but while studying Dietetics and since being diagnosed with depression, it has been everywhere. While I’m only just starting to practice mindfulness for my mental health, I thought I’d be able to give you some insight into mindful eating.

Image credit: Pixabay

Mindful eating is a technique where you purposely pay attention to your food. Yeah yeah, I know it sounds daft, but I mean really pay attention to your food. Take away your attention from the world. Switch off your phone or your TV. Use your senses: taste, touch, smell, sound and sight.

Mindful eating does have its benefits! You firstly begin to enjoy and appreciate food more, rather than shovelling it in. You can fall in love with certain dishes all over again and also realise what you don’t want to put into your body anymore.

You are also able to learn about your satiety – you’ll realise when you are hungry and when you are full, and eat to your body’s signals. This has been proven to help with weight loss and recovery in those that are overweight or in binge eating disorders. Your body is a clever thing. It requires fuel and mindful eating which will help your body to realise what and when fuel needs to go in.

While it can be time-consuming, taking time out of each day to embrace the present is important, so why not start with food. It can be as little as switch off your technology just for your meal; taking time out to appreciate your meals is good for you!

So take some time out for you today. Ten minutes is all it takes. Focus on your food, your surroundings and live in the present! We don’t all live forever, but we’ve got a lot to appreciate on this little planet of ours.

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