August 12, 2019
It’s natural to be overwhelmed when you are making lifestyle changes, preventing complications, and monitoring your blood sugar – all while living life. But you can take charge of your diabetes self-management with mindful eating. Mindful eating may be a new term for many of us, but as an updated component in Canada’s new food guide, it’s time to shed some light on the topic!
What is Mindfulness?
Being mindful is bringing our full attention and awareness to the moment. There is no judgment – simply being aware of our thoughts, feelings, and sensations. In this age of multitasking and always being on the go, we can all take some time to slow down and be more present.
What is Mindful Eating?
In a nutshell, mindful eating is applying the principles of mindfulness into our food choices and eating experience. Similar to meditation where we focus on our breathing, mindful eating involves shifting our awareness to all our senses, thoughts, emotions, and the environment around us while we eat.
In contrast to mindless eating, we reconnect with our internal cues for feeling hungry and full. We are moving away from habitual, automatic, and impulsive eating and going towards making more deliberate decisions around our food.
Mindful eating is something everyone can benefit from. However, research has shown that mindful eating can help with the management of diabetes!
The act of mindfully eating your meals can help with:
● Improving blood sugar control
● Maintaining a healthy weight
● Enhancing your relationship with food
● Being in control of cravings and emotional eating
● Making your eating experience more enjoyable overall
How Do I Start Eating Mindfully?
1. Ditch Distractions
There can be a lot of distractions in your environment! The most obvious – the TV or your phone. Distracted eating can lead to eating more than we really need. Focusing on eating while eating can even make your food taste better.
2. Slow Down
Take your time and chew slowly instead of rushing through your meals. That might mean taking an extra 5-15 minutes for your meal. If you don’t have time to spare, try chewing the first few bites slowly and finish the rest at your usual pace.
3. Eat with Others
Whether it’s with your friends, family, or co-workers, share your eating experience with others! Connecting with others can add more joy to your meals and even promote a healthy lifestyle. You may end up discovering some new healthy foods or noticing something great about your dish you didn’t see before.
It’s important to stop and listen to your body and how you feel. Ask yourself: Am I hungry? How hungry am I? Do I feel full? Am I just bored? What emotion am I feeling right now? By pausing and listening, you are more likely to understand your relationship with food and avoid overeating.
5. Practice Self-Kindness
No one has the perfect diet. We all want a treat from time to time, but what’s important is to not beat ourselves up about it. Be gentle and kind to yourself – as you would with your friends and family. Avoid using negative language when something goes wrong and instead, be accepting and move forward.
If you’re interested in learning more about mindful eating, check out some of the resources below or
make an appointment with a West Toronto DEP dietitian by calling (416)-252-1928.
Check these out for more info:
● The principles of mindful eating: https://thecenterformindfuleating.org/Resources/Documents/principles_handout_1_22.pdf
● Mindful eating programs and training for diabetes: https://amihungry.com/programs/mindful-eating-for-diabetes/get-started/
● Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food by Jan Chozen Bays
Fletcher, M. (2017). How to Incorporate Mindful Eating in Diabetes Care. AADE in Practice, 5(6), 34-38. doi:10.1177/2325160317732319
Government of Canada. (2019, January). Canada’s Food Guide: Be mindful of your eating habits. Retrieved from https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/healthy-eating-recommendations/eat-meals-with-others/
Miller, C. K. (2017). Mindful Eating with Diabetes. Diabetes Spectrum, 30(2), 89-94. doi:10.2337/ds16-0039
Image sources: Pixabay
Author: Terri-Lin Zhou