Does texting, emails, faxes and needing information at light speed affect our eating? Drive-throughs, eating in the car, and 5 minute meals does affect our eating and health, and not in a positive way.
I had dinner with some European friends last week who were amazed at how little time Americans take for eating. Long lunches and dinners with interesting conversation and enjoyment of food are the theme. Is mindful eating partially responsible for lower obesity rates in Europe?
Mindful eating can be an unfamiliar concept. Since many adults do not know how to eat mindfully we are bringing up a generation who are completely unaware of the notion of savoring and enjoying their food.
Indeed, snacks on demand around the clock was a recent article in the NY Times discussing how every sporting and child event is stocked with snacks, many of them processed and refined. A study in the Journal of Health Affairs examining the eating habits of 31,000 children showed that snacks now account for about 27% of calories consumed by children.
Barry Popkin and Carmen Piernas of the University of North Carolina state:
“Our findings suggest that children ages 2-18 are experiencing increases in snacking behavior that are moving towards higher consumption patterns. This raises the question of whether the physiological basis for eating is becoming dysregulated, as our children are moving towards constant eating.”
What are some tips for mindful eating for ourselves and our children?
- Chewing and tasting your food to obtain as much flavor in your mouth as possible can actually increase serotonin levels which decreases your desire to continue eating
- Pausing to savor and enjoy each bite can increase satisfaction and fullness
- Taking time to eat at the table, away from distractions such as televisions and computers, and not in the car helps focus on eating from true hunger
Try “the raisin exercise” as I call it in my office. Take one solitary raisin, smell it, and then put in your mouth. Chew it for about 30 seconds before swallowing, something not all that easy to do.
You might be surprised at how much taste one little raisin can have. The burst of flavor can be quite satisfying. Applying this exercise to the rest of your food takes work, but the results can surprisingly healthful.
Besides being satisfied with less food, you’ll actually be able to taste and enjoy your food and possibly lose weight and improve your health in the process. Mindful eating offers a plethora of benefits- and that is information that deserves light speed.