Magic of mindful eating
It’s not just about what we eat but how we eat
AUSTRALIAN truck drivers face long hours on the road, and being under pressure to meet client schedules often results in drivers eating on the go rather than stopping to have a break and a rest at mealtimes. However, eating while driving makes it much harder to manage your health and weight – this is because you are eating mindlessly.
Mindless eating refers to eating when you’re distracted; it generally means you don’t truly enjoy your food or even really register what you eat. Mindless eating can also lead you to eat more at one sitting because it takes 20 minutes after you start eating to send the message to your brain to say, “You’re good, you’re done, you’re full”. If you are distracted, you can easily overdo your intake in that 20-minute timeframe.
Not only are you likely to eat more at one sitting if you eat mindlessly but you are also more likely to eat more over the rest of the day.
This is because if you are eating while distracted, you are less likely to process or even remember that you ate. As a result, you may end up eating sooner or not compensating for the extra kilojoules (or calories) you’ve consumed.
If you are eating mindlessly, it is time to turn the tables and start eating mindfully to enjoy some of the benefits of healthy eating. The following tips will help you eat more mindfully.
Get out of the cab and take time to sit down and eat your meal or snack with no distractions. You may need to plan your trip ahead of time to factor this in. Guaranteed, it is worth it. Truck stops and rest stops can be good opportunities.
SWITCH ON ALL YOUR SENSES
To really be mindful of your meal, you need to turn on all your senses. Enjoy the taste, the texture, the smell and the overall experience of eating that meal.
Don’t forget to eat slowly and chew your food well. This will not only help you to enjoy your meal, it also ensures you will get a more realistic signal to tell you when you are full.
AVOID LARGE PACKETS
Eat from plates or portioned-out food rather than directly from a packet. When you are on the road, there is often the temptation to grab easy-to-eat goods like packaged foods. Studies have shown that you are more likely to eat more if you are eating directly from large packets, bowls or even using larger cutlery.
This is also the case for drinks from larger cups or glasses. Large packets can offer more value for money, so if you do buy a larger container, preportion your food to help ensure you don’t overdo it.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
It is important to remember to listen to your body and recognise when you are genuinely hungry or when you are eating for other reasons.
If you suspect your eating is triggered by times when you are tired, stressed, anxious or even bored, it may be worth creating your own ‘food and mood’ diary for a few days.
Often the foods we choose at emotional times can be comfort foods or those higher in fat and added sugar.
When creating a food and mood diary, think about what you are eating, rough amounts, the timing, your hunger levels and how you feel.
If indeed you start to see a pattern between your food intake and your mood, it is worth exploring the underlying cause and more effective options.
The following resource is a great place to start: www.diabetesnsw.com.au/ wp-content/uploads/2014/12/DA-49-Foodand-eating.pdf – or, alternatively, talk to your doctor or health professional team.
Think you are ready to be mindful? Take the mindfulness challenge:
1. Take some food, for example a strawberry, and place it in the palm of your hand
2. Notice the shape and colour of the food or even how the light falls on it
3. Think about the texture of the food
4. How heavy does it feel?
5. Smell the food. How does it make you feel? Is your mouth watering? Is your stomach grumbling?
6. Take a bite of the food. Do not chew or swallow just yet. Feel the texture of the food in your mouth. Notice the flavours on your tongue
7. Savour the flavours on your tongue for 30 seconds before chewing and swallowing
8. Once finished, think about the lingering flavours from the food and how you are feeling.
“Often the foods we choose at emotional times can be comfort foods.”