Does this sound familiar? It’s lunchtime. You sit in front of your computer with a wall of emails in front of you.
You take a couple bites of your sandwich. You grab some chips. And start reading your messages. You answer a few of them.
Before you know it, you’ve finished lunch without even noticing it. A couple hours later, you’re hungry and crave a snack.
Dr. Lilian Cheung of the Harvard School of Public Health says it’s no coincidence that the obesity epidemic in the U.S. coincides with the Internet revolution. “
Right now in the digital age we’re always multitasking, eating on the run,” she says Dr. Cheung. “We’re often not really conscious of what we’re eating.”[i]
Dr. Cheung is coauthor of the bestselling book Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life and one of the world’s top authorities on something called mindful eating. It’s simply a way of eating in which you pay more attention to what you are doing.[ii]
A growing body of research shows that eating while multitasking causes weight gain…and practicing mindful eating leads to weight loss and better overall health.
In a 2013 study, researchers at the University of Birmingham in the U.K. found distracted eating led to an immediate 10% increase in the amount of food eaten. It also made subjects eat 25% more food—snacks and other meals—later on.[iii] [iv]
Meanwhile, scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, found women who practiced mindful eating lost weight without dieting. After six months, these women lost more weight than the ones in a control group…had less belly fat…and had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.[v]
Mindful eating is not a diet. There is no calorie counting. There are no meal plans. No forbidden foods. It doesn’t rely on deprivation. It involves being fully aware of what is happening in the moment while you’re eating.
With mindful eating, you focus on colors, smells, flavors, and textures of foods. There are many ways of doing this, but Dr. Cheung’s number one tip for mindful eating is this: “Don’t use any electronic devices while you eat.”[vi]
When you are distracted by a cell phone or computer, it means you aren’t focused on the food going into your mouth. You don’t process the information that you are consuming calories. This means it isn’t stored as a memory. Without this crucial mental connection, you are more likely to eat again soon than if you ate mindfully.[vii]
5 Steps to Mindful Eating
1.) Set a timer: Before you start eating, set a timer for 20 minutes. You can use your phone, a stopwatch, the cooking timer on your oven… Anything that will let you know when 20 minutes is up without having to check the clock. This is the amount of time it takes for your brain to recognize you are full. Make sure to eat a normal-sized meal. Don’t put any less—or more—food on your plate than you normally would.
Take the full 20 minutes to eat the food. This may not seem like a long time, but Dr. Cheung’s research found that most people take far less time for meals.
It may be difficult at first to make the plate last 20 minutes. But eating more slowly forces more concentration between your mind, body, and the food you eat.
2.) Focus on your meal: When you sit down to eat, you should be free of distractions. Focus on the act of eating:
- Turn off your TV.
- Put your cell phone, tablet, or computer out of reach.
- Don’t read at the table.
- If you’re eating with someone, eat silently for the first five minutes. When you do talk, try to keep the conversation focused on the meal.[viii]
Approach eating as a form of quiet meditation. It’s a time to relax and enjoy the meal you have prepared. Focus on connecting with your food. Don’t worry about what happened at work or what you must do after you eat.
3.) Assess your meal like a food critic: Their jobs depend on all their senses—not just a refined palate. They can’t rush through a meal in five minutes. Instead, they must savor and think deeply about the food they eat.
This is what you should do as well. To begin, don’t eat as soon as you sit down. Instead, take a few moments to observe your food. Study the visual qualities of the meal. Note the colors and textures of what’s on the plate. Are the hues bold and vibrant? Does the presentation appeal to you? If so, why?
Concentrate on the aroma. See if you can identify the scent of specific spices or ingredients. Ask yourself what it is about the smell that appeals to you.
Dr. Cheung added: “Notice the beauty of your food. Breathe in its aroma. Explore with touch and texture. When you’re preparing it… When you’re eating it… Consider what’s in your mind when you look at your food.”[ix]
These steps are important. Research shows messaging molecules used for digestion increase by more than 50% at the sight and smell of food. After you’ve taken these steps, you’re ready to taste your food.[x]
4.) Make your first bite small. Pay attention to the first flavors you experience. As you chew, note how the food feels in your mouth. The flavor of what you’re eating will change as you chew. Pay attention to this. Try to pick up subtle changes.
5.) Chew your food thoroughly. Dr. Cheung recommends that beginners chew each bite 10 times. Chewing begins the chemical process of digestion.[xi]
Enzymes in your saliva break down the food. Your pylorus, the digestive muscle in your stomach, relaxes. This helps food pass through your intestines and you feel fuller, quicker, making it easier to eat less.
Mindful eating is the simple solution for changing how you think about food. When you’re conscious of what you eat, it puts your brain back in charge of your body. After that, weight loss follows naturally and without effort.
Editor’s Note: Discover why calorie counting is fake news. Studies show you’re actually more likely to gain weight than to lose it on low-cal diets. Learn why they don’t work…and what does. It’s in Independent Healing, your best source for science-backed natural health solutions. To find out more, go HERE.