Mindful eating is an approach to nutrition and lifestyle that encourages people of all ages to eat slowly. In today’s fast-paced world, most people eat quickly as they go from one event to another. Family caregivers are particularly busy, trying to balance the demands of their elderly relative, their own family, and their personal needs.
Not only are family caregivers more likely to experience anxiety and depression, they are also at high risk for overeating and obesity. Mindful eating may be the technique they need to stay healthy and be mentally and physically well.
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is about being present during a meal and giving it full attention. It means that eating should be done slowly, without any distractions. Learning to recognize hunger cues from the body is important in mindful eating, and knowing when the body is full, not stuffed. Mindful eating also helps develop an appreciation for the food by focusing on the texture, taste, color, and smell. Instead of eating to meet emotional needs, mindful eating only nourishes the body and contributes to overall health and wellness. In summary, it is practicing a more conscious and meaningful relationship with food.
It’s Way Too Easy to Overeat
Most people have a hard time thinking about the last meal they had where they ate slowly, savoring each bite and enjoying the taste and texture. All too often, the brain goes into automatic overdrive as people drive, watch television or do something else at the same time. Mindful eating is the opposite approach, and those that do it soon see that they are less likely to overeat.
The biggest obstacles to controlling portions are the emotional aspects that people put onto food. Often, family caregivers overeat when they are stressed, sad, bored, lonely or even nervous. They also get used to larger portion sizes to fill themselves up instead of stopping when their body signals that they are full. Eating on the go also makes it difficult to gauge how much food is being consumed. Finally, distractions are a big reason why family caregivers are not able to control their food consumption. Whether it is due to family drama, communications, driving or caring for an elderly relative, there are plenty of distractions to take away from mindful eating.
Start Mindful Eating Today
Learning more about Mindful eating can help people better understand how to combat the motivations for overeating. Family caregivers that want to give mindful eating a try should begin with just one meal, increasing to several meals a week and eventually to every meal. They should remove as many distractions as possible, including phones and televisions. Before eating a meal, they should use all their senses to appreciate it—the smell, color, and texture. Chewing slowly can help keep the mind in the present and focused on the food. Finally, people should learn what it feels like to be comfortably full and to avoid overeating.
Being a family caregiver is a difficult job and many of them struggle with food-related issues. Mindful eating can be one way to develop a healthier relationship with food and lead to better nutrition and less overeating.
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