By: Erin Kukura, MS, RD
UCSD Recreation Dietitian
Eating distractedly is almost second nature to many of us. How many of you find yourself eating most of the time in front of the computer, TV or scrolling your phone? Luckily, with mindful eating practices we can learn to slow down, increase satisfaction of our meals, enhance digestion, and find eating experiences much more enjoyable!
- Eating distractedly is how many of us spend our meal times, either watching TV, working on our computer, or scrolling through Instagram. However, when we eat this way we lose awareness of what we are eating, or even how hungry or full we might be getting. We usually just eat whatever is placed in front of us, without responding to what our body is telling us it actually needs.
- Mindful eating, on the other hand, is practicing being present with the eating experience and increasing awareness. This includes using our senses such as smelling the food, tasting it slowly, noticing the texture, flavors, even temperature associated with the food. Really allowing us to be present and enjoy the food.
- Taking the time to notice the sensations while mindful eating can be another way to practice slowing down at meals. All too often we are scarfing down a meal or snack to get on to the next task. This can cause GI discomfort, distress, and sometimes result in delayed fullness. If we instead, take a few minutes to chew our food thoroughly, place the fork down in between bites. This can also be the reset we need to be more in tune and slow down the pace of eating.
- This is also a great time to check in with your hunger and fullness cues. How hungry are you before the meal? How full are you getting throughout and at the end of the meal? This simple check-in can also help to notice when we may be eating more mindlessly or out of habit rather than out of hunger.
- Oftentimes, we may continue to eat or search for something after a meal because we do not feel satisfied. Mindful eating allows for our attention and focus to be on the food and the experience oftentimes resulting in greater satisfaction.
- How can you start today:
- Pick a meal to eat mindfully. Try to remove as many distractions as you can. (sitting outside is a great way to force yourself to remove the distractions).
- Look at the area around you, can you enhance the space? For example, sit at a table, use silverware, turn on a candle or background music.
- Take a few moments to notice the food, what do you see, smell, feel, and taste.
- Practice taking one bite at a time, while remaining aware of all your senses, chewing the food thoroughly before taking another bite.
- What was that experience like? Did you notice any changes with your satisfaction or feelings of fullness after the meal?
- See if you can start to make meal times a relaxing, mindful eating experience!
To learn more about mindful eating or to discuss other nutrition questions you can schedule an appointment with Erin at: https://recreation.ucsd.edu/wellness-services/nutrition/