Extension @ Your Service: Savor the moment with mindful eating

“Mindful eating” is an emerging term in nutrition research. It involves removing outside distractions and acknowledging all of the senses while eating. By eating mindfully, the pace of eating is slowed; this allows the body to signal that it is full and helps to prevent overeating.

Research is showing that this may help decrease the amount of high-fat, high-sugar and salty foods eaten at one sitting. This is important because eating too much of these nutrients can lead to chronic diseases such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Extension @ Your Service by Alyssa Anderson

Extension @ Your Service
by Alyssa Anderson

As a dietitian, I have used mindful eating as a tool to help people with weight loss. Utilizing all of the senses while eating can be difficult at the beginning. Here are some tips that may help:

* While preparing meals, notice the colors, texture and appearance of the ingredients.

* Cutting, peeling and cooking food offers a great chance to note the different smells of the individual items as well as how those can change as they are combined together.

* Listen to the sizzling of a hot meal or the crunch of vegetables as they are chopped.

* When the meal is ready, pay close attention to the flavors and taste. Is it sweet, salty, spicy, bitter or maybe a combination of these?

* Also observe the temperature and texture. Is it smooth, soft, crunchy or maybe grainy?

Another factor to eating mindfully is eliminating outside distractions that often are a result of trying to multitask. Snacking on foods in front of the TV or computer has been linked in past research studies to overeating.

By shifting the focus to the food, it is believed that the person becomes more aware when the body signals that it is full. It takes about 15 minutes for this signal to occur, which is why it is encouraged to slow down and enjoy each bite.

Mindful eating can be practiced with a morning cup of coffee, a special dessert or any snack. Some people even find a change in preference to certain foods; suddenly, foods that they liked to mindlessly snack on taste too salty or sweet. Eating mindfully should be a positive and enjoyable experience.

Other aspects of mindful eating and nutrition will be discussed in a 2-in-1 wellness program that is being offered through the Richmond County Cooperative Extension and FirstHealth Community Health starting at 10 a.m. on July 15. This six-week program will meet once a week at the Richmond County Cooperative Extension.

The first hour of the class will be on fun ways to stay physically active throughout the year. The second hour will be a chance to participate in hands-on cooking and preparing of healthy recipes.

For information on pricing or to register for this class, please call Alyssa Anderson at the Richmond County Cooperative Extension at 910-997-8255.

Alyssa Anderson is the Family & Consumer Sciences agent for the Richmond County Cooperative Extension Office in Rockingham. Send her an email.

Filed in: Farm & Ag, Health, Latest Headlines

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