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Mindfulness and nutrition

Mindful eating as a practice to learn how to eat consciously

The concept of mindfulness is generally linked to different meditation practices through which our mind should try to focus on a single thought, isolating itself from any source of negative external energy. 

 In recent years, the idea of mindfulness has also been extended to nutrition. The founding father of this theme is Jon Kabat-Zinn, an American biologist and writer, as well as creator of various institutions related to meditation and stress relief practices. 

What is Mindful Eating and how can it help to improve our relationship with food? 

Jon Kabat-Zinn, defines Mindful Eating as a practice aimed at "paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally”". 

Feeding is often an almost mechanical action, characterized by haste and a lack of attention to the moment itself. Mindfulness, on the other hand, insists on being aware not only on what we are eating but also on how we are doing it. Furthermore, it must not be considered as a diet, but as a useful tool to self-manage and self-regulate many personal behaviors concerning the food sphere. 

But which are the factors this practice is based on?  

Mindful Eating is closely linked to the concept of awareness: one of the focal points concerning a correct alimentation is a regular nutrition, correctly distributed between the main meals of the day. At this point, it is essential to be able to recognize the real hunger from a more "emotional" one. 

Moreover, we should learn to observe the behaviors that characterize us when we eat. Do we eat too fast? Do we think about having more food before finishing what is already in our plate? Observing ourselves and realizing which attitudes are wrong is the main starting point to approach a more conscious diet. 

 Being seated both with mind and body: even eating requires concentration! Eating while standing, or while doing other activities, will postpone the moment of feeling full. This happens because our brain, being busy in other activities, will take longer to realize that we are eating. We must learn to focus on food, making the most out of senses such as sight, smell and taste. 

 Learn to chew slowly: Some experts advice to always put down the fork between bites, while others recommend chewing every bite at least 30 times. That's because our brain takes from 15 to 20 minutes to realize we have had enough food, and simple tricks like these can help us to feel full after eating the right amount of food. 

 Finally, do not judge! It's not always easy to eat mindfully and there can be several reasons why things get more difficult. We need to learn to eat without judging and without blaming ourselves, because mindful eating is a path, and as such it will certainly have its ups and downs. The important thing, however, is never losing sight of our goal!  

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