Mindful Eating: a new commitment to food

Nowadays, we are always rushing into something or somewhere. When it is time to pause for having a meal, our brain keeps connected to everything around us: we constantly check our phones, we are absorbed by social media news, and stressed by work and life issues. Amidst such turbulence, how can we be aware of the compromises made in our relationship with food?

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Inverting old and bad eating habits

Cultural, economic and marketing practices affect the way we buy and use food. Labour, leisure, preferences and lifestyle changes have made us increasingly sedentary also jeopardizing our eating habits. In the hope of contradicting these paths, many new diets have emerged, offering a range of ways to lose weight and improve our health. All these new solutions are nonetheless focused on cutting and adding nutrients to our meals, forgetting an essential part of the process: our eating behaviour.

Mindful eating cuts across this boom of trendy diets to alert us that healthy eating also included rethinking our eating habits and our relationship with food. This bond with what we eat derives from the awareness taste, smell, colour and texture of food. According to the Centre for Mindful Eating, “pausing and becoming curious focuses the mind. Mindful Eating cultivates becoming grounded in the present moment’s awareness of eating.”

This complete awareness helps us to focus or thoughts and feelings in those physical sensations related to eating, and to identify the true origin of hunger – whether if it is a physical hunger or if it is a consequence of an emotional cause.

Mindful Eating has been helpful in treating many conditions, including eating disorders – like binge eating -, depression or anxiety, and addressing various erroneous food-related behaviours.

How to practise Mindful Eating

Practising Mindful Eating may not be an easy task since it usually contradicts our normal eating habits, simultaneously demanding total concentration. According to the Harvard Health Publishing, there are a few steps that can help us improve our Mindful Eating.

First, the shopping list. We should consider the health value of every item added, preventing us from impulse buying at the supermarket. A second step is discipline.  We should avoid skipping meals and thus prevent seating at the table with excessive hunger. Meals should be taken with an appetite but in appropriate portions.

The third step involves the essence of Mindful Eating. “Appreciate your food. Pause for a minute or two before you begin eating to contemplate everything it took to bring the meal to your table. Silently express your gratitude for the opportunity to enjoy delicious food and the companions you’re enjoying it with.

Bring all your senses to the meal. When you’re cooking, serving, and eating your food, be attentive to colour, texture, aroma, and even the sounds different foods make as you prepare them. As you chew, try identifying all the ingredients, especially seasonings” as advised by Harvard Health Publishing.

The following steps involve taste and chewing. It’s easier to taste food completely when our mouth isn’t full. So taking small bites and putting down utensils between bites could help. Chewing thoroughly and eating slowly are other techniques that improve our experience in tasting all the flavours that are released.

Final advice: “Devote at least five minutes to Mindful Eating before you chat with your tablemates.”

 

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Parents: help your kids reach full potential at school

Sleep, eating habits and motivation are essential for a productive school year. Start implementing good practices from the beginning. We give you some advice coming from our partner, Hospital Lusíadas.

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Sleep

A good night of sleep is essential. A disturbed sleep can result in difficulties in keeping focus, memory loss and tiredness. The ability to store information during a class will be reduced. Additionally, Teresa Moreno, neuropediatrician from Hospital Lusíadas Lisboa, explains that besides resting, sleep plays an important role in strengthening the immune system, in the hormones responsible for the growing, and even in the memory, to mention a few. Lack of sleep is harmful at every age, but even worse during childhood.

Electronic Devices

Studies indicate that devices like tablets, smartphones and such can be more harmful than tv. Children who have access to tablets or smartphones in the bedroom tend to sleep less 21 minutes every night than those who don’t.

Eating

Eating habits of children require a constant care. Meals should be organized according to preferences, school schedule and extra activities like sports. Planning meals ahead will help you make healthier choices.

Meals should include ingredients from the different food groups, with an emphasis on vegetables. Breaks between meals should be no longer than 3 hours. Snacks are important to keep the energy levels and help in the concentration, by giving a feeling of satiation. And don’t forget to include plenty of water in your kids lunchbox!

Studying and motivation

The studying area should be luminous, well ventilated, clean and without distractions or noises. A weekly studying plan is recommended. Parents should demonstrate interest in their kids’ studies and be part of it. They can ask the children to explain what they learned in a creative way, and what was the most interesting topic. Compliments and encouraging words should be used but must be sincere and related to the activity they are doing.

If your children are having trouble with motivation and focusing, contact us to arrange a consultation with within a prestigious psychology clinic

Sources (in Portuguese): Eating    Sleeping    Motivation

 

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