What is Mindful Eating?
Mindfulness can easily be translated to “awareness.” In this case, it could be the awareness of what we are eating, how we are eating, why we are eating, and when we are eating?1 Many of us enjoy snacking or grabbing “seconds” at dinner time. There are also those of us that eat when we are sad or depressed.1
Unfortunately, this type of behavior can cause the daily calories to quickly add up! To sum it up, mindfulness is a behavioral technique that can help us put our habits in perspective.1 Our habits are a large part of who we are and can determine whether or not we are successful. At times, our habits must change so that we can accomplish our goals and grow as an individual.1
Studies show that mindfulness has a great influence on how much we eat, how we feel when we eat and when we choose to eat.J Acad Nutr Diet. 2016;116:1081-1086.
How does this relate to food journaling?
Food journaling, or food tracking, is a method of mindful eating.1,2 Some may argue that this can turn into an unhealthy habit, which is definitely possible. Rather than looking at the negative aspects of food journaling, let’s review some of the positives:
- It can help you remember what you have eaten that day.
- If you are also tracking calories, you can see where you can improve if you are trying to achieve a goal.
- It will let you see if you are eating too much or NOT enough.
- It will let you see what time of day you typically get hungry and help you adjust your eating schedule.
- It can help you realize if you are eating out of boredom rather than hunger.
There many tools available that can help you log your food on your phone. They also can help calculate calories to make sure that you are eating enough to get through the day. Having a dedicated hand-written food journal is also an option.
One thing that most people do not consider is how many calories processed foods have! If you are eating real foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and quality meat; you are actually eating less calories than a diet full of processed foods.2
I use the MyFitnessPal app. It has its own database where popular products and foods are stored and can be used by other members. As someone with food allergies, I have to avoid almost all processed foods. I did not realize until I started logging my food daily that I was not eating enough calories for my body to function properly. I was suffering from dizziness, fatigue, sleepiness and weakness. As soon as I started eating more throughout the day – all of the symptoms went away.
Tips for Food Journaling
- When logging your food, ask yourself, “why am I eating?”
- Make note of the time of day you are eating and how you are feeling.
- If you are tracking calories, make sure to take the service size into consideration.
- Keep your thoughts short and sweet – no need to write a novel, unless you want to.
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1. Fung, Teresa T., ScD, RD, Long MW, ScD, Hung P, MS, Cheung, Lilian W.Y., ScD, RD. An Expanded Model for Mindful Eating for Health Promotion and Sustainability: Issues and Challenges for Dietetics Practice. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2016;116:1081-1086.
2. Prada M, Garrido MV, Rodrigues D. Lost in processing? Perceived healthfulness, taste and caloric content of whole and processed organic food. Appetite. 2017;114:175-186.