Our Dietitian Alice Mika has shared a new blog post about mindful eating, including a recipe, which you can read below!
Mindful eating – What is it and where do I start?
When spending more time at home, people may find that they are snacking more or making repeated trips to the fridge. While sometimes this is the result of being hungry and of course, needing to eat meals to sustain our bodies, sometimes it is the result of a number of other factors that can contribute to snacking or non-hungry eating.
The term non-hungry eating refers to eating that is stimulated by factors other than hunger, including emotional eating, social occasions, boredom or eating just because the food is available. While sometimes eating for enjoyment or in social occasions is very important, frequent non-hungry eating or eating without recognising satiety can contribute to overeating or unintentional weight gain.
One of the strategies that can be used to help combat this is mindful eating. Mindful eating is a learned process and skill that involves immersing yourself in the meal you are eating and the sensations that come with it, while blocking out or removing external distractions.
It may take many attempts and practice over time to become skilled at mindful eating, but it can be a simple tool for both controlling your intake and enjoying your food.
Mindful eating, when practiced regularly, can also improve digestion, reduce stress and improve your relationship with the people that you share meals with.
An exercise in mindful eating:
Sometimes it can be difficult to start thinking about mindful eating in social environments or while eating a full meal.
Try this exercise first to become more attuned to your senses while you are eating:
- Choose a food item – start with something small, like a piece of dried fruit, piece of chocolate, potato chip, biscuit or nut.
- Look at the shape of the food. Take note of the texture, weight, and appearance
- Smell the food, notice how your body is responding. Are you thinking about eating it? Is your mouth watering? Your stomach rumbling?
- Place the food in your mouth, notice the texture on your tongue. Notice the flavour, the shape of the food in your mouth. Does it melt or soften?
- Begin chewing and chew slowly. Ask yourself if the flavour or texture is changing as you chew.
- After swallowing your food, notice if the flavour lingers in your mouth. Is it different to the flavour of the food while you were chewing?
Mindful eating can be practiced in regular meals too, and there are some simple steps you can take to begin eating more mindfully.
- Before you eat, check in with your hunger level. Think about how hungry you are on a scale of 1 to 10. Write this down if you want to.
- Are you craving a specific food?
- Are you actually thirsty?
- Is there something else happening emotionally or socially that is contributing to your desire to eat food?
- Take a seat – eating while moving or standing can make it more difficult to concentrate on the meal in front of you
- Reduce or remove distractions – Turn off the tv, put your phone and laptop away. Focus on the food in front of you
- As with the activity above, notice the smells, sounds, textures, flavours and appearance of your food.
- Eat and chew slowly, putting down your cutlery between mouthfuls. Notice how your hunger level changes through the mealtime.
- Stop eating when you begin to feel full. Give yourself permission to leave food on your plate.
It takes time for our stomachs to signal to our brains that we have eaten enough. You can save your left-over food for another eating occasion.
- When you’ve finished eating, take note of your hunger level again. How much has it changed? Do you feel satisfied?
Remember that mindful eating is a skill and takes practice. While it may take a few tries and you may feel silly, aiming to incorporate a few mindful eating points at each meal can improve your awareness of your hunger, and increase your enjoyment of your meal.
For more information about mindful eating, guided audio tracks or other information go to:
If you are struggling with non-hungry eating, overeating or weight management, make an appointment with our accredited practicing dietitian Alice.
Seasonal Winter Soup Recipe
As we head into August, now is a great time to make the most of the seasonally available produce in winter while it is in season. Buying seasonally available produce has a number of benefits, including generally being more affordable, supportive of local or Australian growers, and often has a better flavour, texture and colour than produce that is not in season.
Containing parsnips, carrots, and sweet potato, this recipe ticks the seasonal box! In addition, carrots and sweet potato are both sources of Vitamin A, which is important for both immune function, cell development and eyesight.
This soup also contains plant-based protein from lentils, and for an extra hit of fibre, try leaving the skins on your root veg – wash them well.
See below for a winter warmer with some seasonal veg.
Spiced Root Vegetable Soup (https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/spiced-root-vegetable-soup)
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 2 Sweet potatoes, chopped
- 2 Carrots, chopped
- 2 parsnips, chopped
- 1 red chilli, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 75g dried green lentils
- 1.3l vegetable stock
- 425ml milk
- 100g Greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the onions and fry for 5 mins until softened. Tip in the remaining veg and cook for another 5 mins, adding the chilli and cumin for final 2 mins.
- Add the lentils and stock to the pan. Bring to the boil, then lower heat and simmer for 25 mins until veg are tender and lentils are soft. Blend with a stick blender or similar until smooth with the milk and a little extra water or stock, if necessary. Season, then reheat until piping hot.
- Ladle into bowls and serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of chopped coriander.
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