The Benefits of Awareness and Slowing Down
Eating is essential to our lives, yet many of us are not really ‘being present’ while consuming food. We might be distracted by our phone or TV or simply too busy to appreciate what (and how) we’re eating fully. Mindful eating is a practice that encourages us to bring awareness back to the act of eating, making it easier to savor meals and build healthier habits. Here are some great online resources to help you get started with mindful eating.
When making dietary changes post-bariatric surgery, one of the most important steps is adopting a mindful eating practice. Research has shown that emphasizing mindful eating can help achieve better long-term physical and psychological health outcomes. Here, we’ll discuss why mindful eating is important for successful postsurgical weight loss and provide tips for incorporating this beneficial practice into your diet.
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is an approach to eating that focuses on paying attention to each bite, savoring food, and listening to your body’s cues. It involves slowing the pace of eating and engaging in the experience of consuming food rather than mindlessly wolfing it down. This practice also helps you stay aware of hunger and fullness levels and ensure you don’t eat beyond satiation.
Why Should Bariatric Surgery Patients Consider Mindful Eating?
Bariatric surgery can potentially help patients control their weight, but it does not guarantee success in the long term. After the procedure, patients should consciously try to sustain the resultant weight loss by following a healthy diet and exercising regularly. However, even if bariatric surgery patients follow the prescribed diet, they will likely struggle with weight regain if they engage in mindless or emotional eating practices.
Mindful eating can help overcome such issues as mindless snacking by helping individuals truly savor their meals and become aware of their fullness levels. It is also associated with reducing emotional eating triggers and can aid in minimizing the risks of obesity relapse. Additionally, some people may find that incorporating mindfulness techniques into their mealtime routine can help them develop a healthier attitude toward food.
How Can I Practice Mindful Eating?
Eating mindfully is essential to taking care of your body and mind. It involves paying attention to the food you’re eating, being aware of how it makes you feel, and ensuring that what you put into your body nourishes your body and soul. Here are some tips for practicing mindful eating:
1. Take time to appreciate your food.
When you sit down to eat, really take the time to appreciate your meal. Take a few moments to look at your plate’s vibrant colors, smell each dish’s aroma, and savor every bite. This will help you stay present with your food and enjoy it more.
2. Put away any distractions.
Eating in front of the television or while scrolling through social media can distract you from fully enjoying your meal. To be mindful while eating, put away all phones, laptops, tablets, books, and magazines—any distractions that take away from paying attention to your food.
3. Eat slowly and stop when you’re full.
Mindful eating involves being aware of your physical responses to food. Eating slowly allows you to recognize when your stomach is full and avoids overeating.
4. Pay attention to your emotions.
Aside from physical cues of hunger and fullness, mindful eating also involves acknowledging your emotional state before and during meals. Are you feeling stressed, anxious, or bored? Being mindful of how different emotions influence your cravings can help you make healthier choices.
5. Acknowledge non-physical cravings.
Non-physical cravings such as wanting comfort, control, or distraction can be more powerful than physical hunger. Paying attention to these cravings can help you understand why you’re eating and make more conscious decisions about food.
Practicing mindful eating regularly will help you become more aware of your body and its needs. Eating should be a pleasure, not a chore; being mindful of our meals helps us get the most out of them!
The first step in practicing mindful eating is understanding its purpose. There are several websites with helpful information on the basics of this discipline, as well as tips and tricks to make it easier to stick with. From Healthline and Mindful.org, to UCSD and Harvard Health Publishing, many sources exist before embarking on your mindful eating journey.
Meditation Apps & Online Courses
Meditation is an incredible way to stay mindful during and between meals. Dozens of apps dedicated to mindful eating offer guided meditations and talks to help create mindfulness at mealtimes. Alternatively, plenty of online courses are available to help deepen your understanding of mindful eating and learn different techniques. Check out apps like Headspace, Calm, Insight Timer, and courses from Dr. Jan Chozen Bays and Eat Savour Savor.
Support Groups & Online Forums
Many people find that having a support group or community makes it much easier to stay committed to their mindful eating routine. Luckily, many proactive support groups are available in person and online – free forums where you can chat with other practitioners and ask questions about mindful eating. Check out forums on sites like Reddit, Quora, and NutritionFacts.org and local meetups!
With regular practice, it will become easier to stay connected to the experience of nourishing yourself with meals – something we can all benefit from!
Mindful eating is an effective strategy that bariatric surgery patients should employ to ensure successful weight-loss maintenance following a bariatric procedure. Incorporate mindful eating practices into your lifestyle so that you can get the most out of your post-surgical weight loss efforts and enjoy lasting results!