5 Principles of Mindful Eating for Beginners

Do you taste, feel, smell, and embrace everything your sweet treat has to offer? Or do you sometimes eat so quickly that the taste may not register with your tastebuds? If 1 cookie quickly turns into a few in moments, mindfulness may be the missing piece to stabilizing blood glucose levels and controlling type 2 diabetes.

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Mindfulness with the "cookie mantra"

I often joke with my clients, "be present to the cookie." This mantra reinforces that all food can be enjoyed and savored in balance.

The cookie mantra stems from a childhood memory when one of my parents ate several cookies before me, and I asked, "How did they taste?" My parent responded, "Wow, I wasn't paying attention." That's when the mantra, "Be present to the cookie," was created!

What reinforces overeating?

Overeating is typical when eating meals. From a young age, many children are forced to finish their dinner plates or to have "3 more bites" to appease their parents or caregivers.

Ignoring internal cues

In these situations, children bypass their digestive system's regulatory mechanism that tells the brain to stop eating. After years of ignoring these internal cues, many adults can no longer recognize when to stop eating when they are full.

How can overeating impact diabetes?

But this disconnect from mealtime is often a reason for overindulgence yet decreased satisfaction, negatively impacting one's healthy habits and ability to manage blood glucose levels.

Overeating may provoke the unwanted cycle of guilt, followed by excluding certain foods from your diet to help you regain control at mealtime.

You can combat overeating and similar food choices by embracing a more mindful eating approach!

What is mindful eating?

Mindful eating is paying attention to the food you consume without added judgment. In other words, if you want a cookie, enjoy a cookie! The emphasis of mindful eating is to savor your food.

While it may sound too good to be true, it's an effective way to eliminate overly restrictive food rituals yet still fuel nutrition in a way that aligns with your health goals. To set yourself up for satisfaction, follow the tips below!

5 principles of mindful eating for people with diabetes

1. Eliminate distractions

Have you ever gone to the movies and eaten half your bag of popcorn before the opening credits? Eating while multitasking makes you less aware of consumption and may over-consume. So, save your screen time for a later occasion and focus on your food!

2. Sit down and get comfortable

Is it just me, or does eating while standing up not feel like a real snack or meal? It often occurs out of boredom—choosing a handful of goods from the fridge or pantry.

But eating while standing doesn't give the action the level of focus it deserves. Instead, enjoy your nutrition while sitting at the table to improve your mindfulness. This small change may help decrease unwanted snacking that can spike your blood sugar.

3. Slow down and savor

After all, good things take time! Speeding through a meal can delay the connection between your fullness cues and intake. Your body needs time to relay the message! So, help slow down mealtime by placing your fork down in between bites to experience your food and enjoy it with all your senses.

4. Connect to gratitude

Rather than polishing off your plate quickly, pause and say an intention of thankfulness. For example, "I'm grateful for this food that nourishes my body."

So, enjoy the foods for the pleasure and nourishment they provide!

5. Practice hara hachi bu

Hara hachi bu is a Japanese expression that means to eat until you are 80 percent full.1

Be aware of physical hunger versus appetite. Practice awareness of when to begin and stop eating. If you're already feeling full, save the dessert for later or the next day.

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