The Importance of Mindfulness

I set this to post while I am away meditating. It seems appropriate, as meditation is an act of creating mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a key element in successfully maintaining weight loss, determining which foods work best for your body, and for staying healthy and balanced in all areas of life. With countless external cues creating an environment suited to overindulgence, vigorous attention to our body’s cues is perhaps the most effective tool for health available — and it costs nothing!

We can all agree that what we eat has a huge impact on our health and energy, but what is less commonly known is how what we eat affects our appetite, our moods, and our thoughts. With hectic, busy lifestyles, we are no longer aware of the impact that our food choices have on our level of functioning, and many have lost sight of what high level functioning feels like.

[Tweet “When we begin to pay attention, our entire world becomes possibility for change.”]

By noticing how the foods we eat affect our body, we empower ourselves to make different choices. One of the key things clients who work with VIBRANCE experience is a greater connection between food and body wellness, and a greater understanding of the language their unique body uses to communicate with them.
When we begin to make different choices based on how our body feels, we capitalize on the body’s ability to restore and heal itself and experience a greater sense of wellness and vitality.  [Tweet “When it comes to weight loss, mindfulness is mandatory for sustained success.”]

When I first started setting everything aside to enjoy my meal, I found it boring. Painfully so! I wanted to rush through my meal so I could get back to whatever seemed more pressing at the time.
Then I slowed down even more, focusing instead on the food that was in front of me — the gloss of the dressing on my spinach leaf, the sensation of biting into a crisp bite of apple or celery, the feel of different textures and tastes in my mouth as I chewed. I became aware I only chewed about 6 – 10 times before swallowing, so I tried to quadruple that and I found I needed to take smaller bites. Then I noticed I was full long before my plate was empty.

So I started putting less food on my plate…  You can see where this is going.

Multi-tasking is registered in the brain as stress; inducing a fight or flight response because the brain is divided between important duties.  The adrenaline kicks in to increase our attentiveness, but ultimately this has negative impact on our short term memory as well as our overall health and well-being.

When we multi-task while eating, we do not pick up on the very food cues that initiate digestion. The smell of food, even the thought of food starts our systems preparing for digestion and assimilation. Chewing begins the process of tearing down a meal and key enzymes located in saliva are responsible for digesting carbohydrate.  The sight of our meal cues the hormonal cascade that lets us know we are full 20 minutes after we begin eating.

[Tweet “When stressed or distracted, our digestive system takes the back seat.”] The body isn’t interested in extracting vitamins from an orange when it’s white-knuckling it through a stack of emails or preparation for a board meeting.  Consequently, digestion is impaired and stomach troubles, fat storage, and blood lipids increase while the ability to detoxify, extract vitamins and minerals, feel full and be satisfied decreases.

Simply sitting down, looking at your food, and paying attention to how it feels will make you feel more satisfied. Make it a habit and you’ll likely drop some weight, improve your digestion, and you may even find out you don’t actually like the convenience foods you’ve been eating all this time. (it’s happened before!)

Give it a try for one meal a day for the next 10 days and let me know what the effects are.  I’d love to hear back from you.

More information:

The Pitfalls of Multi-tasking

Why Being Mindful Matters

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1 Comment

  1. […] 3) Chopsticks are our friend – they make it impossible to shove fist-sized globs of rice in my mouth when I am noshing on yummy Thai cuisine after a workout, and they slow my meal wayyyy down. Given that it takes 20 minutes for your stomach’s signal to the brain to activate the sensation of fullness every thing we can do to slow down our eating is a step in the right direction. Want to slow down even more? Try a mindful meal. […]

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