By: Itzel Dzul H., B.S, CSUN Dietetic Intern
Do you usually eat while watching television or using the computer? Do you eat when you’re bored or stressed? Do you wait until you’re starving or do you continue eating until you’ve fallen into a food coma? Most of the time we miss to analyze what, when, where, how, and why we choose to eat. According to the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, practicing mindful eating can maximize health and prevent diseases, with research showing positive outcomes in, weight loss, eating disorders, diabetes management, and overall healthy eating. 1 Mindful eating is an essential tool that allows you to meditate on every bite of food you decide to take, essentially helping you sense the positive relationship between your body and food. Personally, I have found that when I practice mindful eating I am able to enjoy my meals more, I feel more satisfied, and I have more energy. It is never too late to add mindful eating to your list of New Year’s resolutions! Here are 3 tips on how to practice mindful eating:
- Enjoy your meals in a peaceful environment:
It is important to practice mindful eating in an environment that is limited in distractions. Using the computer, watching television, and using your phone are examples of distractions that can impede your mind from listening to how your body feels after taking a bite.
- Focus on the food you are eating:
Use your 5 senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound. Take a moment to concentrate on the bite you are about to take, what does it look like? What does the smell remind you of? What does it feel, taste, and sound like when the food is in your mouth? Tip: It helps to close your eyes to explore the food you are eating.
- Listen to your hunger and fullness cues:
Really listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues help you recognize when to eat and how much to eat. Take a moment to concentrate on what your body is telling you. Waiting until you’re hungry at the point of starvation can lead to overeating. In addition, overeating can lead you to what people call a “food coma,” thus making you feel sleepy and uncomfortable. Tip: Using a hunger scale can be a helpful in determining your level of hunger before, during, and after your meals. It can be as simple as 1-5: 1 being that you are starving, 2 you’re hungry, 3 you’re comfortable, 4 you are full and 5 being that you are in a food coma. You can even use the classic smiley face scale they use at the doctors to measure pain.
Mindful eating can be the key to the healthier lifestyle you’ve been looking for! I got to see the impact of mindful eating on young students firsthand at my previous internship. It helped them try new foods, enjoy their food, control their portions, and they were more conscious of the foods that were healthier than others. Their joy and excitement about mindful eating filled my heart with joy and I hope it does the same for you after you try it for the first time. There is a book you can read for more guidance! It is called “Intuitive Eating” written by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN and Elyse Resch, MS, RDN.
Enjoy the various flavorful ingredients in this delicious guacamole recipe by practicing mindful eating!
- 1 cup cooked green lentils
- 3 large avocados
- ½ cup onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 3 tbsp. fresh cilantro
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1 lime, juiced
- jalapeño, minced (optional)
- pepper and salt to taste
Preparing the lentils:
- Rinse your lentils with fresh water before boiling to remove any dust or debris.
- Combine 1 cup of lentils and 3 cups of water in a large pot. Cover. Cook over low-medium heat. Bring to a boil, cover lightly, reduce heat and simmer until they are tender. Cook time is typically 15-20 minutes. Drain the water and set aside.
Preparing the guacamole:
- In a medium bowl, combine onion, cilantro, garlic clove, tomato, cooked lentils, lime juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and allow to sit for 10 minutes for the flavors to combine.Tip: You can make it spicy by adding jalapeño.
- Cut 3 large avocados in half and remove seed and skin. Mash the avocado to a consistency you enjoy and add it to the mix.
- Add the lentils to the mix.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro.
- Serve with whole grain chips/crackers.
Mindful Eating Resources on Campus
Mindful eating is all about connecting mind, body, and food. CSUN’s Mindfulness Mondays hosted by knowledgeable workshop leaders from the Institute for Community Health and Wellbeing can be the perfect place to start! Visit Santa Susana Hall 108 every Monday starting February 5th-May 7th from 12:00pm-12:45pm, where you can focus on mindfulness and meditation. For more information, click here. You can also take advantage of the free services provided by the Oasis Wellness Center by using their relaxing inside and outside meditating area, massages, and wellness workshops.
- Fung, T. T., Long, M. W., Hung, P., & Cheung, L. W. (2016). An Expanded Model for Mindful Eating for Health Promotion and Sustainability: Issues and Challenges for Dietetics Practice. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 116(7), 1081-1086. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2016.03.013