What is your relationship with food? It sounds like a simple question, one to which you might reply, “I eat to stay strong, active and healthy.” But understanding why and when we eat, and the best way to eat, can be a complex process. It’s an important process, nonetheless. The way we eat can affect how our body and brain function. For example, if you eat lunch at your desk while working (distracted eating) your brain is less likely to let your body know that you’re satiated. Here are four tips to help you maintain a healthy weight and eat happily and healthily:
If you find you eat quickly and suffer from indigestion or you’re gaining unwanted weight, eating slowly can help. Try this exercise created by Buddhists as a meditation practice: Place a raisin in your mouth and see how long you can keep it there. Consider the taste and texture of it. Think about where it came from and what kind of nourishment it supplies. Mindfulness focuses on living in the now. It’s easy to focus on the future and what’s next. This leads us to eat quickly and on-the-go rather than enjoying tastes and textures and understanding our body’s relationship with food. So during your next meal or snack, slow down and enjoy the nourishment that food is provides.
Say No to Distracted Eating
Mindful eating involves breaking yourself of mindless eating. Perhaps mindless eating means snacking on chips while watching TV at night or overeating at lunch because you’re multitasking and working. We’re all for occasional fun splurges, but if you’ve found that your splurges are now commonplace and you’re feeling lethargic or moody because of them, it’s time for a change! It’s easy to get into these habits. We understand. But breaking them can mean more energy, a greater ability to focus throughout the day, weight loss and an overall healthier lifestyle. To achieve all of this, when eating, focus on the food at hand. Pay attention to what you’re eating. Eat slowly. Get into the habit of understanding how you feel after eating certain foods. You’ll be able to associate healthy eating with feeling better.
Understand Your Cravings
One of the reasons we reach for chips or indulge in an unhealthy meal is because our body is signaling us to do so. But we’ve got our wires crossed. If you’re stressed and looking for a moment of relief, your body might signal a desire for fatty foods. Fatty, sugary foods release opioids into our bloodstream. These chemicals give you the sometimes euphoric feeling experienced after eating chocolate, for example. You want these foods again and again because of this positive effect. Dopamine, the reward system–or feel good hormone–reminds you of these pleasurable feelings once had. Thus, our mood can sometimes affect our eating habits more than hunger. But these euphoric feelings don’t last. Here are our tips for ignoring cravings that aren’t related to hunger:
Banish Bored Eating
Snacking when bored happens to the best of us. Eating is, and should be, enjoyable. But it’s also used to pass the time and provides us with comfort, temporary spikes in energy and more. If eating is tied to unhealthy cravings or eating just to eat, it can lead to unhealthy habits. When you think you’re having a craving, here’s how to determine if it’s actual hunger or simply boredom:
- Drink a glass of water: When you think you’re hungry, you’re often just thirsty
- Go for a walk or take a stretch break – physical exercise stimulates the brain and decreases feelings of boredom
- Listen to your favorite songs to give your brain a different kind of mood-boosting stimulus
If you enjoyed this post, you might like our recent post, 4 Healthier Ways to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth.