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7 Principles of Mindful Eating

7 Principles of Mindful Eating

I am presenting you the 7 principles of Mindful Eating, but this is only a tip of the iceberg. There are many more aspects you need to know to master the art of Mindful Eating, but here are the 7 basic principles on how to start practicing Mindful Eating.

1. Engage all your senses. What you eat should appeal to all your senses. Hearing - What happens when you hear a steak sizzle on a flaming hot pan? Or hear knife hitting the cutting board in a nice rhythm. You realize there's someone cooking in the kitchen! Smell - Then you start smelling the juicy aroma of the cooked steak. Food that smells good makes you hungry and your digestive organs start secreting digestive enzymes to get you ready to eat! Sight - Having just a piece of steak on your plate is not visually appetizing. Put colorful sides like steamed broccoli and carrots. Assemble the food in a way that is visually appealing for you Touch - Having a variety of texture in your food will take you to a different dimension of food! Add some crunch to your soft, mushy comfort foods. Like adding nuts or seeds in your salad! Taste - Every meal should incorporate all 5 testes (sweet, sour, bitter, salty, umami).

2. Be aware of your emotions, thoughts, and feelings A study shows that happy emotions are associated with healthy food choices. And the opposite is true, when people are feeling down, people tend to comfort themselves with chocolate and chips. So before you eat, screen your inner-self. Ask yourself what you're thinking, feeling, and doing before the meal. 3. Eat till 80% full In Japan, we say "Hara Hachi Bu" meaning eat 80% full. We're told that if we eat 80% full, it will keep the doctor away. And this practice seems to give you longer and healthier life. As an Example, people in Okinawa, Japan actively practice this and they are the longest living people in Japan (average life expectancy 89 years old)!

4. Savor the small bites and eat slowly On average, Americans spend 15-20 minutes eating. But did you know it takes 20 minutes from your first bite till your brain gets the message that there's food in the stomach? So by the time you finish cleaning up the food on your plate, your brain just registered information that you're actually eating food!

5. Honor the food, honor your body In this day and age, food is available everywhere -at least in the U.S., It's very easy for us to take our food for granted. Every year we waste about 38 million tons (that's a weight of 104 Empire state building)! One of the reasons why we keep throwing the food away is that we're often not self-aware of how much we throw away food. Therefore I believe mindful eating can be a part of the solution. Why? Because mindful eating practice honors the food, the people, the earth, and yourself. It brings awareness and consciousness to every bite you take.

6. Serve modest portions The studies done by Dr. Brian Wansink from Cornell University is so unique but so true. He focuses on how external environment influences consumer intake. He found that Americans relies on external cues to gauge when to stop eating, in comparison, French relies on internal cues to stop eating such as "when I'm no longer hungry". Americans relying on external cues, ate 1.5 x more than the French. Although my ultimate goal for you is to eat like French, for now, let's try controlling your intake by serving smaller portions. Start by using smaller plates (9-10" diameter) and tall narrow glasses for water and other beverages. He's done a lot of interesting and fun studies, he explains all his findings in his book Mindless Eating and Slim By Design.

7. Eat for Balance Your life is not about "eat to live" or "live to eat", it's to eat for balance! Knowing what to eat is as important as knowing how to eat. Nowadays, there is so many information on the web about healthy nutrition and I'm really happy that people are putting more effort on having vegetables on their plates. However, please don't forget that eating for balance includes Mindful Eating. Because even though you may be eating kale and apples all the time, if you're mindlessly eating those foods, they're not serving you any good for your body.

Mindful Eating Challenge

Miho Hatanaka, RDN


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