Have you ever stopped and thought about how you eat? Most diabetics are convinced that certain foods have it out for them. As soon as the food is around they swear blood sugar starts to rise, even before eating the meal. One thing they are surprised to hear is that being mindful about how they eat can help prevent this problem.
What is mindful eating?
Basically, mindful eating is consuming food in response to cues of physically feeling hunger or fullness.
Instead of just sitting down and eating, mindfulness means you follow a process. This puts you back in charge of what goes in your mouth. Subconscious habits are in control of how most people eat and that is not serving prediabetics and type 2’s very well. Most people are shocked to discover that applying a few basic practices can affect:
- What they eat
- How it affects blood sugar
- What they don’t eat
- Impulse control
What is an example of mindful eating?
An example of mindful eating is simply being aware of the food you are putting in your body at that point in time. Understanding how the senses of taste, satisfaction and the sense of fullness it brings as you are eating. It doesn’t mean you eat perfectly.
It is simply being aware of the food your going to eat. This means even when shopping for food or planning out meals you take awareness of what you will be eating.
The opposite of mindful eating is what most peopel partake in today. Busy lives mean rushed meals where the consideration of how good or bad the food is for you is an afterthought. Most of the time we keep eating until the food is gone, regardless of being full or not. This happens in a variety of ways such as:
- Commuting and eating on the way
- Eating during work
- While watching television
- In conjunction with endless scrolling on phones and social media
Does mindful eating help?
A study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics was done to determine if mindful eating was useful in Type 2 diabetics. The researchers compared mindful eating to nutrition based guidelines for reducing weight and blood sugar levels.
Mindful eating proved to have very similar results to the diabetes nutrition education self management program. In both groups the same amount of weight loss ranging from 3.5 to 6 pounds was observed. Both groups were also able to lower their hemoglobin A1C in three months.
Mindful eating has been shown to be an effective remedy in other situations as well. Two important ones that are often seen in diabetic patients include:
- Emotional eating – eating in response to emotional triggers.
- External eating – when the sight or smells of foods drive people to eat even if not hungry.
How do you practice mindful eating?
Practicing mindful eating is all about the experience of eating and savoring the food as you eat. In order to do that you will want to plan your meals out as much as possible. This doesn’t mean you have gourmet meals, but thinking about what you will eat is a mindful step. Remember, your mind will wander during planning and eating.
It is okay, when it wanders just bring it back to focusing on your food.
Before you eat:
|Think about how healthy each item is. Consider is this food highly processed? If so, try to think what a non processed option would be.
|Make time for the meal
|You are going to enjoy the meal. Don’t be rushed because you didn’t set aside enough time.
|Be hungry, not starving
|Being very hungry often results in overeating. If you have been fasting, it might be best to start with a small snack, such as nuts. Then wait about 15 to 30 minutes before the main meal.
|Take 5 deep breaths and note the following mentally:
1. How hungry are you?
2. Are you very hungry or tired, stressed or bored?
3. Do you feel dehydrated?
During the meal:
|Take Small Portions
|If you are really hungry you can always go back for more later.
|Assess The Food
|Is the food processed?
What does it smell like?
Do you enjoy the texture?
Asking questions like these can help slow you down and cause you to think.
|Take Small Bites
|The smaller the bites the better you can chew them and the more your food is digested. This allows key nutrients to be better absorbed.
|Slowing down starts by putting your fork, spoon or finger food down between bites. Take a few breaths between bites.
|After eating, savoring and assessing your hunger it is important to check your hunger at the hallway point of the meal. Are you still hungry? If no, then it is okay to stop eating.
|Savor Your Food
|Eating should be a pleasurable experience. When you slow down you get time pick up on how flavors are hitting your taste buds. Talk about the flavor and texture with your companions.
|The act of chewing is the first step in digesting food. It also causes your body to release chemicals that will break food down in your stomach and intestines. The best way to get key vitamins and minerals that prevent cravings is to chew thoroughly.
Mindful eating is a practice that prediabetics and type 2’s should put in place. It is one more tool to help prevent the blood sugar roller coaster.