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How you eat is as important as what you eat!

Take time to eat and digest your food
Digestion begins in the mouth, and actually we prepare for digestion when the cue of food is sensed e.g. the smell of food, the sight of it being prepared, even talking about it can make your mouth ‘water’ which is the first step in digestion. Taking some time to prepare for digestion and focusing on eating allows the body to divert energy to this task, reducing digestive complaints and increasing absorption of nutrients from our food.

Mindful eating helps to prevent overeating
Mindful eating also helps prevent over eating, reduces stress and allows us to enjoy our food more. For example, studies show that eating in front of the TV can result in consuming 70% more. When lunch is eaten in front of the computer or at the work desk, it is more difficult to recall what has been eaten, and it is more likely to increase hunger later. It also takes 20 minutes for our brain to sense that we are full. When we eat very rapidly, we are more likely to overeat.

Do you ever…

–          Finish a chocolate bar and immediately want another one?

–          Eat until you feel completely stuffed?

–          Eat something you know you shouldn’t when you know you aren’t hungry?

True Hunger vs Emotional Eating
Recognising when we are truly hungry and need ‘fuel’ for our body is the proper cue for us to look for food. When we eat for emotional reasons, we often over eat and find it difficult to make healthful decisions.

Physical hunger Emotional hunger
Builds gradually Develops suddenly
Occurs below the neck e.g. rumbling tummy Develops suddenly
Occurs some time after a meal Unrelated to time
Goes away after eating Persists even when full
Eating leads to feelings of satisfaction Eating leads to feeling of guilt or shame


Simple steps for mindful eating

  • Start by recognising when you are hungry before you start eating
  • Don’t wait until you are starving
  • Decide how full you want to be when you’ve finished eating, rather than eating until all the food is gone
  • Choose food that is right for body and mind
  • Eat without distraction
  • Only eat sitting down at a table
  • Take a few breaths before eating and look at your food
  • Start with the food that looks the best
  • Put your fork down between each mouthful and enjoy what you are eating
  • Chew well and take your time
  • Pause halfway through and consider how hungry you still are – remember it takes your brain 20 minutes to register that you are fulla
  • Stop eating as soon as you feel satisfied and push your plate away
About the author : Aine Ryan

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