Sometimes I pick the weekly challenge according to what I need and this is one of those weeks. I kid people that because my dad was a fireman and never knew when the bell would ring I was raised to eat fast. Honestly I can count on one hand the times in my entire life when I wasn't the first one done eating. And I know that my rapid eating is a part of my overall problem with over eating. I was reading in the Harvard Health Letter this morning and much of what I will share comes from their essay on mindful eating.
Imagine you're at your computer, facing a wall of e-mails. After composing a reply, you hit "send" and reach for the tuna wrap on your desk. After a few bites, chewing while glancing at the screen, you set the wrap down, grab a handful of chips, and open the next message. Before you know it, you've finished lunch without even noticing it.
A small yet growing body of research suggests that a slower, more thoughtful way of eating could help with weight problems and maybe steer some people away from processed food and other less-healthful choices.
This alternative approach has been dubbed "mindful eating." It's based on the concept of mindfulness, which involves being fully aware of what is happening within and around you at the moment. In other areas, mindfulness techniques have been proposed as a way to relieve stress and alleviate problems like high blood pressure and chronic gastrointestinal difficulties.
Applied to eating, mindfulness includes noticing the colors, smells, flavors, and textures of your food; chewing slowly; getting rid of distractions like TV or reading; and learning to cope with guilt and anxiety about food.
The mind–gut connection
Digestion involves a complex series of hormonal signals between the gut and the nervous system, and it seems to take about 20 minutes for the brain to register satiety (fullness). If someone eats too quickly, satiety may occur after overeating instead of putting a stop to it.There's also reason to believe that eating while we're distracted by activities like driving or typing may slow down or stop digestion in a manner similar to how the "fight or flight" response does. And if we're not digesting well, we may be missing out on the full nutritive value of some of the food we're consuming.
My daughter (a clinical dietitian) highly recommends the book Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Worksby Evelyn Tribole.
A starter kit
Experts suggest starting gradually with mindful eating, eating one meal a day or week in a slower, more attentive manner.Here are some tips (and tricks) that may help you get started:
1. Sit at the table to eat your meal
2.. Put the fork or spoon down between bites
3. Close your eyes and savor
4. Focus on fully tasting your food
5. SLOW down (Set your kitchen timer for 20 minutes)
6. Chew more (like 25 times)
7. Don't eat and watch t.v.
8. Don't eat straight from the packaging. Use a pretty plate.
9. Eat with your non-dominant hand
10. Eat silently for five minutes, thinking about what it took to produce that meal, from the sun's rays to the farmer to the grocer to the cook.
· A treatment for bingers
Several studies have shown that mindful eating strategies might help treat eating disorders and possibly help with weight loss. Psychologist Jean Kristeller at Indiana State University and colleagues at Duke University conducted an NIH-funded study of mindful eating techniques for treatment of binge eating. The randomized controlled study included 150 binge eaters and compared a mindfulness-based therapy to a standard psychoeducational treatment and a control group. Both active treatments produced declines in binging and depression, but the mindfulness-based therapy seemed to help people enjoy their food more and have less sense of struggle about controlling their eating. Those who meditated more (both at mealtimes and throughout the day) got more out of the program.
Kristeller and others say mindfulness helps people recognize the difference between emotional and physical hunger and satiety and introduces a "moment of choice" between the urge and eating.
The NIH is funding additional research by Kristeller and Ruth Wolever of Duke on the effectiveness of mindfulness-based approaches for weight loss and maintenance. Several other studies on mindful eating are under way around the country.