COLUMBIA, Mo. – A new way of eating is making its way through the country. It’s moving slowly, thoughtfully and mindfully.
University of Missouri Extension nutrition and health specialist Vera Massey invites people to stop and smell the roses. Massey offers tips on how to focus on the present.
Mindful eating is eating with intention and attention, she says. Mindful eating is much more than just eating slowly. Appreciate, respect and enjoy the food you eat each day, she says. Be aware of physical hunger cues. Distinguish them from hunger triggered by emotions. Food won’t cure cravings caused by your emotions.
When you take cues from your body, you avoid eating in response to emotions. “Not everyone is an emotional eater, but everyone’s decisions are affected by their emotions. Learn to manage your emotions, not your food,” she says. “Ride out the wave of craving.”
Mindful eating is not a diet, she says, but you might find that you eat less as a result. “Mindful eating is about balancing how you eat with what you eat.”
There are no recipes, menus or rules. Unlike programs that restrict or prohibit certain foods, mindful eating encourages participants to take small portions of foods they like. “What you resist persists and gets amplified,” she says. Guilt control also helps cravings subside.
The first way to become more mindful is to tune in to your breathing, she says. In her classes, she demonstrates how to sit comfortably, feel your breath and return to breathing. This calms the body and strengthens brain function.
Massey gives the four S’s for mindful eating: Sit down, Savor each bite, Slow down and Stay in the present.
She also urges class participants to disconnect from technology and avoid multitasking while eating. Otherwise, you’ll miss the chance to savor the appearance, smell, flavor and texture of each bite.
Start your day off with a breakfast that includes protein. Let your body tell you when you are full and satisfied. Mindful eating promotes mindful cooking.
Be kind to yourself. If your resistance wears down, forgive yourself and get back on track.
To learn more, go to the University of Missouri Mindfulness Practice Center website at umsystem.edu/curators/mindfulness.