University is a busy time. When life gets busy, time is often stretched between different activities. Class, study, sleep, social life, eating, exercise, tv watching, the list goes on! Unfortunately, food can become a lower priority for some. I want to introduce a great concept that can apply to anyone: Mindful Eating!
Mindful eating means there are no restrictions placed on food. Instead, it’s about being present in the moment and listening to your internal hunger, fullness and satiety cues. Paying attention to these cues will help guide your eating without judgement and lead to a healthy relationship with food.
You hear that? Ditch the food rules! Research suggests that being more mindful has decreased stress levels and improved quality of life. Great news!
Some methods of eating mindfully that are mentioned in the literature include:
- Listen to your body. Pay attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. If you feel hungry, eat. If you feel full, stop.
- Slow down. I know you’re a very busy student, but everyone deserves a break. Chew slowly, savour your food, take breaks while you eat. Wait 20 minutes before going for seconds to determine if your body is still hungry. You may find two bites of chocolate is more than enough when you do this.
- Eat away from distractions. This includes your computer and Netflix. Take time for your meals and enjoy every bite! Try eating with friends and practice being mindful together.
- Remove judgement. Avoid putting labels like “good” or “bad” on foods. You know what you like and dislike. Enjoy mindful portions of what you like (including a cookie!) without judgement. This goes for exercise too. Find a physical activity you enjoy, rather than forcing yourself to do something you hate.
- Be aware. This one is for mindless eating. Some eat out of boredom, others eat out of sadness to the point of feeling completely overfull. Pay attention to these habits and focus on mindful strategies.