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Mindful Nutrition


When I was in college I was part of the Nutrition Education Action Team or NEAT, a student club that taught nutrition education to their peers. This is where I learned all about Mindful Nutrition and understand the habits and behaviors we do that can effect our eating patterns. Check out Baby Steph with my NEAT friends from SJSU on graduation day! Circa 2012.


Mindfulness is an intentional focus on one’s thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations in the present moment. Eating mindfully means that you are using all of your physical and emotional senses to experience and enjoy the food choices you make helping you increase gratitude for food. It’s helps you slow down, and really taste your food and fully enjoy it.


Mindful eating encourages you to make choices that will be satisfying and nourishing to the body. This means that you are eating without any distractions and focus on the experience of chewing, tasting and enjoying your food. As we become more aware of our eating habits, we begin to take baby steps towards behavior changes that will benefit ourselves in the long run.


What are the Steps to Eating Mindfully?


Tip #1: SLOW DOWN

How many times have we eaten a meal so quick that once you’re done eating you feel so uncomfortably full? You know what I’m talking about, that extreme fullness that makes you wish you wore sweatpants instead of jeans. I get it because... I’ve been there too. It wasn’t until I learned to SLOW DOWN, and listen to your body's signals to tell me when to stop. The brain sends signals to your stomach but the communication is slow, think getting an email versus a text. It can take up to 20 minutes for the brain to get the signal to your stomach that tells your stomach “STOP we’re full!”. So make sure to chew your food at least 25 times per bite, set your fork down and slooooow it down. Once I started practicing this step, I noticed that I would eat half of a Chipotle burrito bowl instead of eating it in one sitting and I felt satisfied and not uncomfortably full.




Tip #2: Listen to your Body’s Hunger Cues

Practicing mindfulness includes listening to your body and the hunger cues it sends. We need to make sure we understand the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger. If I had a dime for every time I walked to my fridge, opened it, stood in front to see what looks appetizing and eat a random snack, I’d be rich! Some of us are triggered by stress, sadness, anger, loneliness or like me, boredom. Instead we need to take a moment and listen to our body, am I really hungry? What signs does my body give me? Hunger signs to look out for include: stomach growling, lightheadedness or low energy. Sometimes thirst can trigger hungriness as well so make sure to stay hydrated!


Tip #3: Create a Mindful Environment at Home

You can set up your kitchen and pantry for success with Mindful Eating. Be sure to keep healthy foods and snacks around that will satisfy your hunger until your next meal. Keeping healthy foods in plain sight will help you be more conscious of mindful eating. I know when I hide my stash of Hot Cheetos, I forget about them because out of site, out of mind. Yes, I stash Hot Cheetos but I when I do have a craving for that spicy crunch, I grab a bowl and pour out a serving of Hot Cheetos instead of eating directly from a bag which helps me stop overeating and slow down to enjoy my flamin’ hot snack.



Tip #4: Connecting with Your Food

Have you ever stopped to think about where your food comes from? From the farmer who grew your vegetables to the grocery store that sold you the food, to the person (or yourself) that took the time to prepare your dinner. We are spoiled with the convenience of having everything we want at the nearest grocery store, but we never really think about our foods’ journey. The next time you sit down for dinner, take second of gratitude and reflect on how your meal got there, this will also help slow down your eating, but also make a real connection with your food.



Tip #5: Disconnect From Distractions

I always thought I was a great multi-taker…until I realized that there is no such thing especially when it comes to eating and multi-tasking, like scrolling through social media or watching TV. Remember earlier I said that I purposely hid my Hot Cheetos and pour them in a bowl? The reason I do this is to avoid distracted eating as well, so you get a 2-for-1special! I’m sure you’ve had a time, where you grab a bag of chips or popcorn and watch a movie and then the bag is empty before we know it. We’re not paying attention to the food, we are not aware of how much we end up eating which is a recipe for overeating. Instead, take a break from your phone, eat at the table, use utensils and slow down to savor your food.


Follow these tips so that you connect with your food, avoid extreme fullness and overeating, and help you adopt a healthy relationship with your food. Remember to take it slow, new habits will take time form but mindful nutrition will help you savor your food and nourish your body.

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Cristyn Amaral
Cristyn Amaral
Oct 04, 2021

Great post!

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