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Sammy Haggar screamed “I can’t drive 55” in the 1980s when the national speed limit was forced to 55 mph to save gas. Today everything goes faster.
All aspects of life are now geared for speed. We rush to drop the kids off and maybe grab something fast to eat and caffeinate rushing to work. There we take a quickie lunch so we can get more done. If we have enough time we can grab fast food on our way home. If we’re not doing work at home, we’ll quickly chow down on supper while watching a TV show. Chomp, chomp, CHOMP! In general we multi-task while we eat. Is this a good thing?
Many studies show eating fast food causes obesity and wrecks the health of young and old. The BMJ medical journal also points out that fast eating also relates to obesity, as slow and normal-speed eaters were less likely to be obese than fast eaters. Similarly, models showed that eating slower reduced Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist circumference. Related is “Zombie Eating” phenomenon. A OnePoll survey reported 91 percent of adults are Zombie eaters who watch some type of screen while eating.
Are you a zombie eater?
Most of us are.
Many people feel a stressed sinking feeling because their life seems to be spiraling out of control.
Meanwhile, overall obesity is out of control in our society and around the world.
Are they related? You bet!
Not thinking about your meals, eating super-fast and zombie eating where you eat while not paying attention are symptoms of a spiraling out-of-control nutritional lifestyle.
The good news? Several studies show simply practicing taking a minute or two to think can turn it all around. You can make eating and living a more relaxing, healthy and even enjoyable experience.
Taking your food-foot off the gas – for just a minute – may be a simple solution to help you gain control and a happy direction in your life. It’s called mindful eating.
Mindful eating is about taking that moment to think, pray or meditate to reach a state of full attention to your eating experience. When you do this, you’ll actually note your eating experience, your cravings and your habitual physical cues-including your habit of diving into a distraction and wolfing down your meal.
Try to take a breath and notice your food…it’s smell, appearance and texture before you introduce it to your mouth. Now take another breath and slowly chew your food, enjoying the experience of chewing your food, considering the taste before enjoying the swallowing experience.
Yes, this is a skill to be practiced if you have lost this habit.
According to RDN Adda Bjarnadottir on Healthline (June 2019) mindful eating involves:
• Eating slowly and without distraction
• Listening to physical hunger cues and eating only until you’re full
• Distinguishing between true hunger and non-hunger triggers for eating
• Engaging your senses by noticing colors, smells, sounds, textures, and flavors
• Learning to cope with guilt and anxiety about food
• Eating to maintain overall health and well-being
• Noticing the effects food has on your feelings and figure
• Appreciating your food By slowing down your meal many potential health and wellness benefits await you:
1. Increased food satisfaction- taking a moment to breathe, pray or meditate before eating helps you taste your food more. If you increase the time it takes to eat your meal, you can experience more flavors, textures, and smells of the food you eat making your food more interesting.
2. Weight Loss Promoted- when taking a bit longer to eat, you’ll find you learn to stop eating sooner, The “anti-Thanksgiving feeling” of knowing you are full and don’t need that extra bite. Slower eating is associated with a lower body mass index (BMI). Studies show that eating slowly improves the feeling of fullness and satisfaction after a meal (satiety).
3. Enables better food choices
4. Allows for actual social connections at mealtime
5. Improves digestion
6. Prevents becoming overstuffed If you are a fast eater looking to lose weight this year, try mindful eating.
In practicing this, experts recommend eliminating distractions, like TVs or smartphones to enhance your practice. While millions are stressing about changing to food they don’t like or exercising an ungodly amount – others are finding relief and better health by making a small change to mindful eating.
Mike Thompson is a health coach and writes about nutrition and amazing aging. He lives in Richmond Hill, is certified in exercise nutrition and founder of SelfCare Sustained. Reach him at MikeThompson@ SelfCareSustained.com.