Mindful eating is a way for people with diabetes to engage with food in a new way. It emphasizes the use of your senses to be more aware and attentive to how you plan for, prepare and eat food. Long-held eating habits are hard to break. But, mindful eating principles can give you the tools you need to start feeling in control of your food choices.
Here are six principles of mindful eating that you can begin experimenting with.
1. Give thought to the types of foods you choose to eat
Mindful eating begins with food choices. Think about the foods you most want to eat based upon how it will benefit your health and diabetes. Make a list before you go shopping to ensure you stick to those foods. When you shop without a meal plan in mind, you are likely to come home with food you later regret buying.
2. Eat slowly
Eating quickly is one of the biggest causes of overeating. Once you begin eating, it takes time for your stomach to register that it is full (satiated). Eating slowly allows you to savor your food and enjoy it more. Eating slowly will also heighten your awareness of your body’s natural signals that you are becoming full. When you are tuned in to these signals you can stop eating when you sense the feeling of fullness.
3. Engage all of your senses in the eating process
Mindful eating uses not only the sense of taste but delights in the smell, texture, color and shape of food as well. The engagement of the senses is one of the best ways to bring yourself into the present moment.
4. Personally prepare a good portion of the food you eat
Sure, it takes more time to prepare a salad at home than it does to buy one at the drive-thru. But in the process of handling, washing, cutting, arranging and mixing the food you intend to eat it forces you to be more conscious of what you are putting in your body.
5. Give consideration to the type of food and portion size and how it will affect your blood sugar
Mindful eating encourages you to think about what you will eat and how much before you fill your plate. This is the idea behind carbohydrate counting. You anticipate the number of carbs in what you intend to eat and then give yourself the corresponding amount of insulin to cover that number. Regular practice of this approach can dramatically reduce the number of high blood sugar readings that stem from overeating.
6. Emphasize physical and emotional nourishment
Think of food as a way to nourish not only your body but your entire self. High-fat and high-sugar foods are short-term mood enhancers but they do not nourish your body and they often leave you feeling bad about the choices you made. This can spiral into developing poor eating habits that put on unwanted weight, leave you with chronic high blood sugar levels and leave you with a defeated attitude about your ability to change.
The Principles of Mindful Eating. The Center for Mindful Eating. Accessed November 27, 2009. http://www.tcme.org/principles.htm