A lot of nutrition advice is focused on WHAT we eat – but what about HOW we eat?
Many of us are guilty of hurried lunches at our desks, eating dinner in front of the TV, or letting our children eat their breakfast while on their tablets.
What about if I asked you to write down all the foods you ate yesterday?? If you’re struggling to remember chances are you’re eating mindlessly.
How often can you say that you eat because you’re really hungry? For how many reasons other than hunger do we reach for the biscuit tin?
But does it really matter?
I’m not saying we all need to start meditating over our lettuce leaves, but really thinking about not only your food choices but also the way your food looks, smells and tastes (otherwise known as Mindful Eating) could be the answer to a lot of our nutrition-related problems.
Are you eating mindlessly?
- You eat whilst watching TV, reading, or scrolling through social media
- You eat when you’re bored, stressed or upset
- You use food as a reward
- You eat at set meal times, whether you’re hungry or not
- You finish your food & can barely remember what it tasted like
Although mindful eating is about HOW we eat, WHAT we eat can also play an important role.
Foods like refined sugar and processed foods affect our brain, how we think and feel, and prevent us from being able to make good food choices. Do you feel like a calm rational Ninja when you eat sugar? Or junk food? There’s a scientific reason for this!
The so-called Western diet (one high in saturated fats, red meats, ’empty’ carbohydrates such as junk food) has been proven to weaken the blood brain barrier and damage the hippocampus, which is an area of the brain that processes signals that tell us when we do/don’t need to take food in.
Basically eating junk food impairs our ability to realise we’re full, and leads to us overeating!
If you’re a nerd like me, you’ll love to read all about the science behind it here.
In addition to this, many of these poor food choices, like chocolate, sugar, caffeine are all stimulants that are super addictive & create an emotional response when we eat them. Which is why we turn to them in times of stress, and the cycle starts again!
Mindful eating vs Mindless eating
|Mindless Eating||Mindful Eating|
So we can see that the way we eat today has caused some problems, but they’re not insurmountable Ninja!
Here are 5 ways you can fit mindful eating into your daily routine:
- Meal Planning – we know for certain that every day, at least 3 times a day, we’re going to get hungry – so why don’t we plan for this? Being a Ninja is about being prepared. Do food prep so that when you feel hungry you have something healthy to heat up straight away
- Only eat when you feel truly hungry. Learn to notice what your hunger signals are – maybe your concentration drops or your stomach starts to rumble. Get in tune with your body.
- Always sit down to eat, with no distractions. Yes, it IS possible. No TV, no work, no scrolling through social media – the world isn’t going to end if you unplug for 15 minutes!
- Before you eat, take a moment to really look at your food, smell it too. As you eat, notice the texture. Is it crispy, creamy, crunchy? Take your time savouring every bite.
- After you eat, notice how do feel? Satisfied? Sluggish? Bloated? Notice the signals from your body, recognise what it’s like to feel full. This helps us tune into what makes out bodies feel good or bad.
But does it really work?
Mindful eating is something that I cover in my Online Ninja Transformation Programme. Here are two of my Ninja’s talking about the benefits they found with mindful eating:
“Eating mindfully has taught me to appreciate what should be a fundamental and life-giving and enjoyable act, but which has become something to do at speed and get out of the way like it’s an inconvenience!”
“Mindful eating has helped me really take notice of my food and the flavours, and to try more things”
Another great resource if you’re interested in diving into this topic a bit more, is the book Mindless Eating, by Brian Wansink Ph.D. This guy is a true Ninja of eating behaviours and has won awards for his academic research on the subject – worth a read.
And finally, I have a little challenge for you Ninja’s – commit to eating ONE meal today mindfully. Let me know how you get on in the comments below.
As always, happy to hear your thoughts or answer any questions 🙂
Eat Ninja, Train Ninja, Be Ninja.