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Eat Mindfully to Improve Digestive Health

digest Jul 23, 2020


Mindfulness Can Improve Digestive Health

The practice of mindfulness means being aware of what is happening within and around you in the present moment. This practice can be done while eating to enhance enjoyment and support digestive health.

When you practice mindful eating, you avoid distractions (like your phone) so you can fully notice and appreciate the colors, smells, flavors, and textures of your food. You'll chew more slowly with this practice, which benefits your digestion and satisfaction while eating. Mindful eating may also help you:

  • Reduce overeating and binge eating.
  • Lose weight.
  • Cope with chronic eating problems such as anorexia and bulimia.
  • Reduce anxious thoughts about food and body.
  • Improve symptoms of Type 2 diabetes.

Read more about the practice to learn how it can impact your digestion, which can, in turn, contribute to positive mental health outcomes.

Mindful eating is a simple practice that you can do anytime, anywhere.

Mindful Eating Practice

Practice mindful eating during at least one meal per day. There's no need to set aside much extra time, and you'll receive lots of benefits to body, mind, and heart.

The following exercise is simple and will only take a few minutes. Aim to complete this mindful eating practice during one of your daily meals. 

1. Set aside a mealtime in silence.

Set aside a mealtime to be eaten alone, or in silence with others who want to participate in a mindful eating practice.

2. Consider beforehand what you want to eat.

Since you will pay greater attention to the food, you may wish to choose more healthy, wholesome and flavorful fare.

3. Prepare your food with awareness and attention.

Even when you order food, if you are out, give it your full awareness and attention.

4. Sit down, close your eyes and allow your mind to quiet for a few moments.

Give thanks for your food if you'd like.

5. Engage all of your senses: 

  • Look at your food. Notice the shapes, colors, and amount of it.  
  • Smell it (don't eat it yet!).  
  • Listen to it... is it making any simmering, popping, or other noises?

6. Notice how you feel before you eat.

Before you take your first bite, notice the feeling of your hunger, the sense of anticipation, and the changes occurring in your mouth as you prepare to receive the food.

7. Pay special attention to your first bite.

Notice how vividly you taste it and maybe how your tongue and entire mouth come alive.

8. Make each bite a deliberate act, one to be savored and enjoyed.

Taste each bite, noticing how different the experience of taste is in different areas of the mouth.  You can even listen attentively to the sounds of your body enjoying a good meal.

9. Chew slowly.

Chew each bite very slowly, resisting the urge to quickly swallow and move on to the next bite. Perhaps lightly hold the awareness that you often rush through the act of eating and scarcely even notice the food.

10. Pay attention to how you eat.

Notice the movement of your jaw and tongue, the way your body knows how to handle the food, chewing and moving it back toward the throat. Resist the urge to swallow until the food has been thoroughly chewed and the taste fully extracted. Then pay close attention to the act of swallowing.

11. Bring your awareness back when it wanders. 

Continue paying attention to how you eat, returning to awareness of eating whenever the mind takes you somewhere else.  

12. Notice when you are satisfied.

Keep some of your awareness on the belly, noticing especially when you are beginning to feel satisfied, as though you have had enough. See if this happens, and you can stop eating, before you have the sensation of fullness.

The brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) tract are intimately connected and communicate constantly. Imbalances that have their origins in the GI tract can dramatically affect brain function and can cause or contribute to depression, anxiety, and inattention. Learn more.>>>


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