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Mindfulness at Mealtimes

Lisa Bentley

Research shows changing how we eat can lead to weight loss and the practice of intuitive, mindful eating may also relieve stress, helps with high blood pressure and stomach distress! Hurried eating patterns set us up for overeating and weight gain through delayed feelings of satiety and may also lead to poor digestion which could result in lower nutrient absorption. 
Mindful eating is an approach that involves bringing one's full attention to the process of eating—to all the tastes, smells, thoughts, and feelings that arise during a meal. Lisa Bentley, clinical dietitian at Vail Valley Medical Center, offers helpful hints that will allow you to experience food more intensely.
Practical tips for mindful eating:
  1. What do I eat? Tune into your taste buds and focus on your food: taste, texture and temperature. Be thankful for food and the nourishment it provides your body.
  2. Where do I eat? Atmosphere is everything! Share meals with your friends and family whenever possible.
  3. When do I eat? Listen to your body instead of the clock to decide when to eat. Work towards eating until you are 80% satisfied, rather than until you feel 100% full.
  4. Why do I eat? Try to identifying your triggers for eating instead of judging them. Allow internal cues of hunger (stomach growling, headache) to help you decide when and how much you eat, rather than external cues (stress, food being within reach, boredom).
  5. How do I eat? Slow down. Take your time, 15-20 minutes! Eat in a relaxed manner, chew your food. Avoid multi-tasking and choose to be present and enjoy your meal.
Give yourself a little grace! Mindful eating is behavior that is learned over time with practice and patience! It is nearly impossible to be completely mindful for every bite of food we take in throughout our lives in this fast-paced world. The more mindful we are, the more we can work towards freeing ourselves from unhealthy, mindless eating patterns and begin to enjoy food and the nutrition it brings to fuel our bodies!