Mindful Eating

Simplify. Enjoy. Be Healthy.

Making room for the type 1 diabetes dragon at the dinner table can add to the stress and chaos of mealtimes. Adding a dash of calm may be just the antidote your family needs.

What does mindful eating mean to you?

Would you be surprised if I told you that mindful eating is not the same as healthy eating? It is not about eating plenty of fruit and vegetables and drinking your 8 glasses of water every day. Mindful is the opposite of Mind Full. Again, Mindful is the opposite of Mind Full.

Do you sometimes end up eating in the car while driving your kids to their soccer game, eating your dinner in a hurry before that evening appointment, having your lunch at your desk while working on the report that is due today, answering texts or emails on your phone during dinner? Does this sound familiar you? We all do it, it’s called life, and sometimes it’s the only way. But the emphasis is on sometimes!

When we eat with distractions, we are not in tune with our hunger cues and tend to overeat. Further, when we eat in a stressed state, our overall digestion is impaired . This results in bloating, fullness, indigestion, weight gain, cognitive problems, hormonal issues… just to name a few. These are common problems today!

On the other hand, when we eat mindfully, we focus on the food and the positive experience of eating; we are aware of the flavours, sights and smells, as well as the feedback from our body. We eat with our mind fully in the moment. We reconnect with our body’s wisdom, and greater health is the result.

Therefore, let’s look at some practical tips for mindful eating, so you have the tools you need to make choices when it comes to your meal time.

  • Eat when you’re hungry. Often, we eat because we are stressed, bored, sad, happy, or simply because there’s food around. Food doesn’t solve feelings of anger or disappointment. It might soothe you for a short period of time but your problem will still be there afterward. Ask yourself: Why am I reaching for food right now? We should eat only because we’re hungry.
  • Take a few deep breaths before the first bite. If it is in your family tradition, say grace before the meal. Taking a moment builds a space between your day and your meal, so you can de-stress and digest your meal properly.
  • Do only one thing – EAT. Turn off the TV. Close your laptop. Put your phone away; resist the temptation to respond to every noise it makes. Focus solely on the food before you. Ask yourself, does the meal look appealing? Does it smell good? What textures I am noticing? What is the temperature? What flavors am I tasting? Eat with intention.
  • Slow down and chew well. Most of us are speed eaters by necessity, which often results in overeating. It takes 20 minutes for your gut to signal your brain that you are full. It may take some practice to slowly consume your meal, chewing every bite. Make time for dinner.
  • Rather than eating until you’re full, eat until you are no longer hungry. When you’re about halfway through your meal, put your fork down and check in with yourself: Am I still hungry? Or have I eaten enough to be satisfied? This helps you to stop eating based on your body’s signals rather than what’s left on your plate. It trains you to pay attention to your body’s wisdom.
  • Don’t forget to simply enjoy your food. Pay attention to the experience of eating. Find pleasure in it. Feel the texture and magnitude of flavours. Make it a celebration, share it with friends, experiment with different dishes and flavors. We forget that food is such an important part of our lives.

Why Eat Mindfully?

To further emphasize the importance of eating mindfully, here are just a few of many benefits of mindful eating:

  • Improved digestion
  • Weight management
  • Mental well-being
  • Reduced bloating
  • Reduced episodes of heartburn
  • Blood sugar regulation
  • Gut health

But the most important benefit of eating mindfully is that it will increase your appreciation for your body.

And if you love your body, you’re going to treat it well!

Tips from the Trenches

If your home is at all like ours, meal times can be chaotic… cooking, counting carbs, calling the kids to set the table, our cat meowing for his supper, realizing as we all sit down that we didn’t think to pre-bolus… ARRRRGGGHH!

When our family focuses on our meal (instead of the iPad, TV, or the hassles of the day), things feel less chaotic… we are less likely to miss a meal bolus, or miscalculate carbs, or otherwise miss the boat in terms of managing diabetes. Which makes everyone healthier and happier!