Mindless eating can lead to unintentional weight gain
Mindfulness has morphed into a buzzword faster than a runaway hoverboard, but it's been around for thousands of years. The Buddhist tradition of oryoki is mindful eating that focuses on noticing when you're full, and around the turn of the 20th century, Horace Fletcher -- who earned the unfortunate nickname "The Great Masticator" -- preached a form of mindful eating that emphasized chewing.
"When we slow down, we can savor the moment. For those seeking weight loss and help with weight management, eating slowly can delay us from clearing our plates," says health coach Isadora Baum. "As we check in with our bodies to see how hungry we feel, we often find that satiation is reached before completing our meal."
That can be a problem for busy people, especially when there are phones to check and shows to stream. Forgetting to take the time to eat mindfully can cause the pounds to pile on, mostly because you aren't looking.
How to start eating mindfully when there's never enough time
"The life of a working professional can be hectic and stressful, and the thought of taking a lunch break, well, that's probably not even a consideration. You can practice mindful eating in small steps," advises Felton. She encourages taking lunch away from the office, and putting your phone away while you're at it.
Some people go a step further, recommending chewing each bite 40 times before swallowing, but who has time for that? If that's not your jam, you can just try paying better attention to your body, since there's pretty good evidence that mindfulness techniques can curtail binge eating and emotional eating -- and eating too much food, as you probably know, can lead to weight gain.
Now you just have to start doing it
So you're sitting at the table. First, notice your food, and wrap your head around what it looks like, where it came from, and how it was prepared. Then, note your frame of mind -- are you anxious? Relaxed? Hangry? Figure out what your hunger level is.
Breathe deeply -- not too audibly, that's weird -- and develop a reasonable pace for the meal. Chew and enjoy, enjoy and chew, think about the texture, flavors, and how they may affect your mastication. Then swallow. Repeat. Take regular sips of water.
OK, sure, that sounds like a lot to just... chew. But if you're going to be eating anyway, you might as well give it a shot.
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Carson Quinn is a writer based in Indianapolis. Happy to masticate her way to mindful eating, she says 40 chews per bite ain't happening. Follow her on Twitter: @NewsCarson.