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  • What Is Mindful Eating And Should I Be Doing It?

    7th April 2021

    7th April 2021

    By Shivraj Bassi

    If you’ve ever struggled with any form of disordered eating, felt unhappy in your own body or wanted to change how you look, you’ll know that eating can be a minefield. The world is full of loud voices telling you what you should or shouldn’t be eating, or diets you should be trying, and sometimes all of this information can feel overwhelming. 

    Enter mindful eating. This eating technique puts your own body and mind front and centre, and will truly help you to gain control over your eating habits. It’s been shown to help reduce binge eating, promote weight loss and to help in the ongoing fight all of us face in today’s culture to reprogram how our brains think about food and diet. And after all - if you’ve been dieting for years, isn’t something new where you don’t have to restrict yourself at least worth a try?

    What is mindful eating?

    If you’ve ever dabbled in the Buddhist concept of mindfulness (we know we have), you’ll already be familiar with the concept of mindful eating. Mindfulness is a kind of meditation which helps you to see and cope with emotions, thought patterns and bodily sensations. It’s effective at managing the symptoms of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders and yes, disordered eating. So it’s not such a stretch to bring the mindfulness concept from your yoga mat or candlelit bedroom at night to your plate at the dinner table. 

    The basic concept of mindful eating is using mindfulness techniques to reach a state where your full attention is on the experiences and sensations you feel when you’re craving food or eating it. 

    How to eat mindfully

    Photo by Travis Yewell on Unsplash

    The most important feature of intuitive eating is to eat your food, whether it’s a small snack, morning coffee or big dinner, slowly and without any distractions. This means no Netflix, no scrolling through social media on your phone and no chatting on the phone to your friend planning your next run together. You have to pay attention to all of the physical sensations of eating, what your food tastes and feels like in your mouth and what it feels like to gradually become fuller the more you eat. 

    The first time you do this might be pretty challenging, especially if your relationship with food has historically been rocky. However, stick with it and you’ll find things getting easier as time goes on. Concentrate on engaging your senses by noticing the tastes and smells of your food, as well as what it looks like, the colours on your plate, what it sounds like and what the texture and flavour is like. 

    Eating in this slow, non-distracted way means you’ll have much more time than you usually do to consider your hunger cues, and if you’re full or not. Doing this will enable you to become far more in touch with your body and what it feels like when you fill your stomach with food. Over time, this will help you to begin to recognise when you’re actually hungry and when you’re craving food because you’re sad or stressed, or if you’re perhaps just thirsty

    Paying real, concerted attention to food and eating may feel uncomfortable at first, but by sticking with it, you’ll learn to cope with any guilt or anxiety you may feel around food and eating by recognising that you’re just giving your body what it needs to survive and thrive. You’ll begin to notice what kinds of food make you feel good and which don’t - eating your way mindfully through a huge plate of fast food is likely to give you a lot more time to reflect on why you’re putting it into your body than scarfing down food you buy in the drive through while sitting in your car, for example. It will also allow you to appreciate your food more, as you’ll be paying close attention to every bite you put into your mouth. This will make you more likely to buy and cook yourself delicious, nourishing meals

    The biggest long term impact of eating mindfully is that it will help you to replace any automatic feelings, thoughts and reactions to food with more conscious, healthy, learned responses. 

    The benefits of mindful eating

    Physically, mindful eating is likely to make you eat less. It takes around 20 minutes for the signals from our stomachs to reach our brains to let it know we’re full, and if eating is a quick, mindless act, you’re likely to eat more because your mind and body won’t be paying attention to these signals. If you’re eating fast, these signals may not even arrive until you’ve already eaten too much. 

    Studies show that mindful eating can help you to lose weight, by changing these automatic eating behaviours and also by reducing stress and negative feelings around food. 

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    There are plenty of reasons that people choose to switch to a vegan milk, ranging from the milk alternatives health benefits, their reduced environmental impact, and even their taste. But when it comes to choosing the best non-dairy milk for you, the healthiest milk alternative, or even the best non-dairy milk for coffee, it can become a bit challenging to choose between the many, many milk alternatives on the market. We’re here to break it down. We’re talking taste, sustainability and more. It’s the battle of the non-dairy milk alternatives, if you will. But first, as always, let’s get the basics out the way. What are non-dairy milks? Non-dairy milks are a group of plant-based milks such as oat, cashew and coconut milk, that are made without the need for dairy milk from cows. This means that not only are their environmental impact much lower, but that they are great for those that want to follow a vegan lifestyle and remove animal by-products from their diet. They’ve also got some pretty sweet health benefits, too. What are the benefits of non-dairy milks? Of course, the health benefits of non-dairy milks vary from milk to milk, but broadly, some of the great benefits of dairy milk alternatives include: Great sources of calcium Cholesterol free Easier to digest A delicious taste Fewer calories Due to the increasing popularity of dairy milk alternatives, too, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to brands, milk types and even flavours. For this reason, here at Innermost we recommend that if you try one dairy milk alternative and don’t like it – maybe you don’t like the taste or texture, just try another one! You’re sure to find one that you love. It can be pretty overwhelming when selecting the best milk alternative, though. So let’s take a look together… What is the most sustainable milk alternative? It’s a fact that in general, plant-based milks are more sustainable. Their production uses less land, less water and their production leads to far fewer levels of greenhouse gases than dairy milk counterparts. The two most sustainable milk alternatives are soy milk, who’s production requires the least amount of water, and almost milk, who’s production leads to the least carbon dioxide. So, if you’re looking to make the swap to a dairy-free milk in the hope of making a sustainable dietary choice, soy or almond are the milks for you. What is the best non-dairy milk for protein shakes? When it comes to choosing the best non-dairy milk for protein shakes, you’re looking for a delicious taste and a creamy texture. Both of which are provided by almond milk. Almond milk has a similar, creamy consistency to cows milk which is ideal for creating thick and satisfying protein shakes, and the vitamin content of this milk packs a punch, too. Almond milk contains Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Vitamin E, which is a great addition to your protein shake, for sure. For those that love a caffeine boost, almond milk is often considered the best non-dairy milk for coffee, too! If you’re looking for a great tasting dairy milk alternative to add to your shakes, though, we really recommend coconut milk. Sweet and delicious, coconut milk is a firm cult favourite for protein shakes, especially with our pineapple flavoured product The Energy Booster… did someone say Pina Colada? What is the healthiest milk alternative? If you’re thinking of making the switch from dairy milk to plant milk, it’s probably fair to say that one of the biggest motivators behind this choice is the health benefits. Maybe you’re lactose intolerant and fed up of the milk-induced bloating, or perhaps you’re just conscious of the high fat content that dairy milk can bring… Whilst these are worthy concerns, when deciding on the healthiest milk alternative, it’s important to consider the sugar content of your brand of choice. That’s what you should be looking for. Soy milk is one of the most popular dairy milk alternatives, and it’s not hard to see why. As one of the healthiest on the market, soy milk contains just as much protein as cows’ milk, and as long as the milks don’t contain any added sugars and are unsweetened, soy milk is definitely the healthiest pick. Summary There are a few really key points to consider when making the switch to a dairy milk alternative. Firstly, non-dairy doesn’t mean non-delicious. Many people opt for a dairy milk alternative for the taste and difference that these milks can bring to smoothies and protein shakes as a result, for example. Secondly, switching to non-dairy milks is a great choice for the environment. The dairy industry has a hugely detrimental affect on the environment, and so switching to one of these delicious alternatives is a great way to reduce your environmental impact. By the way… why not make the change this World Vegan Day? Whether you opt for oat milk, soy milk, almond milk, or any other of the worthy plant-based milk alternatives, let us know what you think! Head on over to @liveinnermost. We’d love to hear from you. Read more
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