Mindful Eating and Living

By: Diana Nunziato, RN, BSN

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Obesity Treatment and Prevention Conference in Baltimore, Maryland where Phillip Snider, DO, MS, RD presented on “Mindful Eating.” He defines mindfulness as, “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.” To be mindful you must accept what is happening in the present state. You are actively engaged in present tasks and maintain an objective point of view. All of your energy is focused on what is occurring at this moment in time and dismissing the “could have” and “might be” state of mind.

So at the other end of the spectrum, what is mindlessness? It can be defined as anything ranging from being lost in your own thoughts, regretting what has happened in the past, looking too far ahead on your own projects, and trying to be a perfectionist. When mindlessness is the case, it is our goal to help our patients to refocus their strategies and become more mindful of their actions to reach their goals.

Although this all sounds good, you may be questioning if it is worth the effort. Being mindful makes you smarter, healthier, happier, and easier to be around with other people. In the realm of your intellectuality, being mindful increases positive emotions, strengthens the areas of your brain related to memory and emotional regulation, and helps tune out distractions. Further, in terms of your health, being mindful allows you to sleep better, have a lower risk for accidental falls, and improved lifestyle choices regarding your diet.

To be more mindful of your own actions, it may be easier to ask yourself some of these questions. Answer how you think others would perceive you as being:

  • Would you want to be waiting on you in a restaurant?
  • Would you want to be ringing your sale up at the store?
  • Would you want to be your patient?
  • Would you want to be your friend?

In order to try and become more mindful, you can try: meditation, practice mindful eating, walk, reflect and contemplate, and focus your self-awareness.

Now is the time to stop thinking about becoming mindful and start acting more mindful. To create mindfulness in the home, try:

  • Listening to others vent about their problems
  • Limiting how long you watch television and focus on the people around you
  • Understanding the other person’s side of the situation during times of conflict
  • Praying, meditating, and being kind to others
  • Working out daily, improving your diet, getting adequate sleep, and involving those around you for support

You can also be more mindful at work:

  • Turn off your cell phone
  • Take a break to collect your thoughts and reflect on how you are treating your coworkers
  • Smile and be kind to those around you
  • Breath regarding to the Rule of 5’s: inhale for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds and repeat this 5 times for one set. Do 5 sets during your work day.
  • Take a different route home from work

Lastly, take your knowledge of being mindful and apply it to how you eat. Eat when you are hungry and know the types of food you should be eating, being fully aware of the benefits they have on your body. Have a list of 10 things to do to distract you when you feel like eating out of boredom. You can also try eating a wider variety of foods or prepare them in different ways than you usually do.

It takes conscious effort and time to recognize your mindfulness ways, address them, and change to become more mindful. However, the end result will help you lead a happier and healthier life, making it easier to reach your weight loss goal.

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