Between absorbing large amounts of new information, completing assignments and studying for exams, University can be a stressful time. Mindful eating is just one of the many things we can change about our daily habits that can reduce our stress, increase our brain activity and improve our overall health.
So what is mindful eating and how does it benefit me?
Mindful eating, in simple terms, is the practice of paying attention to your food as you eat.
Practiced well, mindful eating can be a form of meditation. It can also teach you to manage your portions better as you get better. Other benefits include weight loss and a natural improvement in diet. By paying attention to your food, you also start to learn how it affects your mood and energy levels.
You can then begin to fuel your body better and allow your brain to function and retain information whilst studying. You will feel healthier and have more energy for socialising as well as studying.
How do I practice mindful eating?
Though it can be traced back to Buddhism, Zen and even yoga, mindful eating doesn’t have to be a complicated, spiritual or difficult thing to practice. Here are some easy ways you can start incorporating mindful eating into your daily life.
1) Take your time
Don’t rush through your meal and over-fill your stomach. Enjoy your food and give your body the time to let you know when it’s had enough.
2) Leave your emotions off your plate
Don’t use food as a way of resolving your emotions. Make a conscious effort to choose your food for its nutritional benefits instead.
3) Think of food as fuel
Eating out of boredom, sadness or frustration is a common problem. Practice listening to your body rather than giving in to these emotions. Look out for stomach rumblings, light-headedness or low energy levels. These are signs of when your body needs food instead of just wanting it.
4) Just eat
Focus on eating and eating alone. That means no TV, Facebook or eating on the go. Use meal time as an opportunity to take some time out for you and really appreciate what you’re putting into your body. You’ll consume far less food when you’re not multitasking.
5) Make plans to eat
Eating should be quality time for you. Plan your meals and enjoy them alone or with others. Be mindful of when you’re eating.
6) Practice Gratitude
In today’s convenience-driven society, it’s easy to consume a meal without any idea of where it came from or how it was made. Stop to think about everything that went in to the creation of your meal. From the animals and farmers to the chefs who created the recipes, really think about the work that went into your food and how lucky you are. Fill your mind with positives thoughts – you’ll be surprised at how much it will lift your mood.
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