Mindful eating is a great way to help you tune into how much food your body needs, and ultimately help you eat less if you’re overeating. However, for many, it can take practice to ‘get in the zone’ of mindful eating, and that’s where yoga can help your mindful eating practice.
Mindful eating forms the basis of intuitive eating, which helps you tap into your body’s natural hunger-fullness cues, rather than relying on strict diet rules to manage your health and weight
Mindful eating has shown to lead to a healthier weight, reduced stress, improve body confidence, and result in more eating satisfaction. It’s a no-brainer when it comes to eating really.
Yoga can help your mindful eating practice by helping you to tune into what your body at any given time. Our bodies are constantly talking to us, and giving us signals of hunger, pain, emotion, fullness, stress and everything in-between. By tuning in and listening, we’re better able to understand what we need at any moment.
Yoga is the peanut butter to the Mindful Eating jelly, they work so well together. A regular yoga practice can improve your mindful eating behavior.
In fact, a recent research study from the Cancer Research Center, and a follow-up study published in The Journal of the Behavioral Nutrition found that people who were aware of what they ate and stopped when they were full weighed less than those who ate mindlessly, plus those who practiced yoga regularly were much more adept at mindful eating.
Yoga increases your mindfulness at mealtimes and leads to less weight gain over time, and that’s on top of the additional physical benefits of yoga. This is because yoga helps you develop mindfulness at being able to hold a challenging pose and observing how your body responds (in a non-judgmental way).
It also helps you focus your mind through breathing techniques. The ability to be calm and observant, especially during physical discomfort teaches you how to be calm and observant in other challenging situations in your life, such as not eating through stress but learning to cope with your emotions instead.
Yoga can accelerate your mindful eating skills by focusing in on your abilities to listen, connect to your body and stay focused.
Sit down, in a comfortable quiet, and relaxing space with no distractions, so you can focus on your food. Then ask yourself these questions as you’re eating.
Why do I eat?
Ask yourself why you’re eating a specific food to understand your physical and emotional health. Sometimes, we may eat not for real physical hunger, but because we’re trying to soothe our emotions with food. Explore triggers such as physical hunger, stressful event, your mood, or seeing the food.
What do I eat?
Are you choosing food for convenience, taste, comfort, or nutrition? Are you choosing something you really want, or because your diet or someone else has told you to? Do you like the taste, sweetness, saltiness, texture, crunchiness, coldness, etc?
How do I eat?
Are you rushed, distracted, secretive or mindful when you eat? It takes about 20 minutes for your brain and body to talk to each other to tell you that you’re full, so the slower and more mindfully you eat (i.e.: no distractions), the more satisfied you will become and you’ll give your brain and body time to talk before you are stuffed.
Am I energized?
Do you feel satisfied and energized after eating, or sluggish and bloated, or even guilty or ashamed? These feelings are tied not only to the nutritional value of what you’re eating but also to your diet mindset about what you “should” and “shouldn’t” eat.
How much do I eat?
Is it based on how full you become, the package size, mindless habit, or clean-your-plate eating? Being aware of how full you’re becoming can help you to stop before you overeat and become uncomfortable.
By asking yourself these questions throughout your meal as often as you can, you will start to make mindful eating a lifelong healthy habit.
The best way to start becoming more mindful at mealtimes is to use a journal to write down all your hunger and fullness sensations and body signals. Plus, if you’re already a yogi, this will take you leaps and bounds in the way of mindful eating, making it much easier to build this habit. If you’re new to yoga, try out a beginners’ class at a local studio or online and start to tap into your body signals.
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