Blissful Ways To Sustain Happiness With Mindful Eating

Most of us spend a good part of our lives on an endless quest for happiness that sadly often remains unfulfilled. We look for comfort and instant gratification in material possessions and accomplishments that don’t really offer sustainable happiness, when instead we should be looking inwards and towards bettering our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. While mindful eating alone won’t solve all of your problems and turn you into a ray of sunshine, it makes it much easier to find joy in life where before you could only see darkness. This might sound preachy and philosophical, which often runs counter to anything practical, but it’s not. Mindful eating can promote happiness through its varied benefits, most of which are supported by scientific research. To get started, however, it would be a good idea to also talk to an online therapist, as this will help you adopt mindful practices, including mindful eating.

We’ll take a closer look at just how and why you should start eating mindfully if happiness is something that eludes you.

Reduces Levels Of Stress And Anxiety

Mindful eating is not limited to the science of nutrition, but is a combination of meditation from yoga and behavioral psychology. Its focus is on the cultivation of a healthy relationship with food that strengthens the sensory experience. This attention to the five senses is important as it draws us into the present moment. This is what mindful eating is all about. Incidentally, this kind of focus on the present (in this context on your food) reduces stress and anxiety levels. When we eat mindfully we are not only more appreciative of what we eat, but we are also more attuned to our body’s signals and our emotions. Like mindfulness meditation, this self-awareness also helps counter stress and anxiety.

Lowers The Risk Of Overeating And Obesity

Problems with eating disorders and obesity are often connected to stress and anxiety, so it’s no surprise that studies have found mindful eating to be effective at helping patients overcome such disorders and attain healthy body weight. Mindful eating directly promotes weight loss and reduces obesity as it lowers the risk of overeating. As it takes at least 20 minutes for satiety signals to reach your brain, you tend to overeat or even binge eat when you’re devouring your food quickly and mindlessly. On the other hand, when you eat mindfully, you take the time to slow down and are less likely to overeat. Emotional eating is also less likely to be problematic as mindful eating increases your awareness, allowing you to distinguish between physical hunger and food cravings.

Strengthens The Social Bonding Experience Of Meals

Irrespective of whether you are an introvert or extrovert, there’s no denying that humans are social animals. Although the degree of required social contact can vary, we all need strong social relationships to maintain a sense of wellbeing and happiness. Throughout history, communal meals have been at the center of this bonding experience, whether with family or the larger community. This practice has taken a beating today, with most of us eating alone in front of the television or whilst working. Mindful eating emphasizes and requires the elimination of such external distractions. When you eat mindfully it is easier to share meals and bond with loved ones, an activity that researchers now regard as critical to happiness and satisfaction with quality of life.

Lowers The Risk Of Inflammatory Bowel Disorders

Inflammatory bowel disorders like ulcerative colitis and IBS are known to severely impact quality of life increasing the risk of depression and anxiety disorders. After all, it’s hard to stay positive and cheerful when you’re battling these disorders. Studies already show that mindfulness-based therapies can help lower stress levels and relieve symptoms of inflammatory bowel disorders. Mindful eating is an extension of mindfulness and it may be even more beneficial because eating slowly lowers the risk of bloating and indigestion. This is because digestion becomes more efficient with slow chewing, as amylase, a digestive enzyme, begins breaking down carbs in your mouth itself.

Increases Self Awareness & Emotional Stability

Like the practice of mindfulness, mindful eating retrains your brain to slow down and think. This analytical and thoughtful approach to eating becomes easier to apply in other areas of life. You become more conscious about the influence of external stimuli, as well as your own feelings and needs. This enhanced awareness doesn’t just improve your decision making abilities, but it also helps to better control and handle emotions. Your actions are not as reactive or impulsive, as you begin to take a slower approach, analyzing and understanding the role of both internal and external stimuli. This can help in every area of life, reducing the risk of conflict and also making you more appreciate and grateful towards others, improving your sense of happiness.

If you’re new to the practice of mindful eating, don’t expect an overnight transformation. Like mindfulness and other meditative practices, mindful eating is a practice that you have to cultivate over time, but the rewards are clearly worth the effort.


References

Kristeller, Jean L., and Ruth Q. Wolever. “Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training for Treating Binge Eating Disorder: The Conceptual Foundation.” Eating Disorders, vol. 19, no. 1, 20 Dec. 2010, pp. 49–61., doi:10.1080/10640266.2011.533605

Olson, Kayloni L., and Charles F. Emery. “Mindfulness and Weight Loss.” Psychosomatic Medicine, vol. 77, no. 1, Jan. 2015, pp. 59–67., doi:10.1097/psy.0000000000000127

Dunbar, R. I. M. “Breaking Bread: the Functions of Social Eating.” Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, vol. 3, no. 3, 11 Mar. 2017, pp. 198–211., doi:10.1007/s40750-017-0061-4

Berrill, James W., et al. “Mindfulness-Based Therapy for Inflammatory Bowel Disease Patients with Functional Abdominal Symptoms or High Perceived Stress Levels.” Journal of Crohns and Colitis, vol. 8, no. 9, 1 Sept. 2014, pp. 945–955., doi:10.1016/j.crohns.2014.01.018.

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