Mindful Eating to Tackle Cravings and Improve Digestion
Check out these simple habits to tackle cravings and food choices
When improving eating habits, choosing the right foods and eating only when we need to is easier said than done. A lot of our behaviours are subconscious and habitual, making it difficult to really change. Maybe if we make a change in our subconscious, this intention can naturally flow into our daily life. As well as this we can practise noticing those unconscious habits in the moment and being more mindful of our eating. Here are 5 ways to eat more mindfully, which in turn will improve appetite and digestion…
1. Avoid screens while eating
In this modern world we are often watching tv or looking at our phones while eating, however this means our brains are missing vital signals that is part of the process of digestion. When we are looking at food our brains send signals to our mouth and digestive system to prepare for food, releasing digestive enzymes which aid in the breakdown of food. Our brain is also registering that we are eating food increasing satiety. If we are eating without really being present with the food, we could end up feeling unsatisfied, leading to over eating.
2. Sit with a craving
Anyone else ever had a massive dinner then still felt crazy cravings afterwards? Me too. It could be as a result of being resistant to hormones such as insulin and leptin which control hunger and satiety. It is super hard to resist the urge to over eat however instead of giving into the craving or totally restricting yourself, just sit with the feeling for a few minutes and let it flow through you. If after a few minutes you still want the food, then go for it but it can be good to be mindful of the feeling for a few minutes rather than mindlessly give in to the craving.
Thirst and appetite are both regulated by the hypothalamus in the brain. Sometimes thirst and appetite can be confused and what may feel like a craving or excessive hunger may just be thirst. If I have eaten my evening meal and I feel a craving I try drinking 2 – 3 glasses of water first. Especially if my meal was high in carbohydrates which bind to water increasing the risk of dehydration.
4. Prepare your own food
The brain loves a little foreplay before the main events, imagining the food, preparing the food, seeing it smelling it. It really gets the digestive system prepared for the food its about to consume. Just like sex, you need to warm up that part of the body before sticking in the salami ;). Well convenience and fast food completely skips this part leading to less than optimal digestion. Like I mentioned before when the brain gets a head up we’re going to eat, digestive enzymes are released, aiding digestion.
5. Pleasure or nourishment?
It’s absolutely fine to eat for pleasure sometimes but maybe sometimes we lose mindfulness of whether we are eating just because we want to or whether we are eating to fuel and nourish our bodies. It could be a good idea to sometimes stop and really think, am I actually hungry? Is my food choice for pleasure or will this food choice really nourish my body? When you stop your behaviour in its tracks and make a conscious decision and practise this again and again, you may start to naturally make better food choices.
6. Mindful eating meditation for better choices
Hypnotherapy is a popular solution for addiction. The same is useful for food addiction. Hypnotherapy basically instructs the subconscious which then flows into your unconscious behaviour throughout the day. Hypnotherapy can be super expensive though. An alternative is meditating. There are a load of guided meditations on youtube for this. Here is one good one. Simply relax, listen and let your subconscious do the work. Meditation is not for everyone but the more you try it the easier it becomes. I find it works like magic.