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5 Benefits of Mindful Eating

5 Benefits of Mindful Eating

I have been researching mindfulness a lot as well as incorporating a variety of formal and informal mindfulness practices. What I have discovered is that mindfulness really works when it is used consistently. Formal practices include mindfulness meditation and various forms of yoga. Informal practice can include a multitude of daily actions that perhaps you mindlessly do every day such as brushing teeth, washing dishes, driving, and eating.

It is unfortunate that life passes by so many people without them realizing what happened; their minds are insistently focused on other things besides what is occurring right now. They fail to live in the present moment. Mindfulness helps you appreciate the present moment and flourish in it. It arms you with the ability to “be” in this moment as opposed to constantly feeling pressured to “do” in another one.

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This article will concentrate on mindful eating as one beneficial mindfulness practice. Eating is something you need to survive, but unfortunately for many people, it becomes an automated task. Without awareness poor eating habits can be created, which in turn, can cause a negative relationship to be formed with the food you eat. Mindful eating will shift your perspective about eating; instead of eating out of merely need and automation, you will begin to relish eating more and being grateful for the ability and opportunity to do so.

1. Enhances Senses

Mindful eating enhances all of your senses not just your taste buds. Mindful living is about engaging and observing your sensory experiences in the moment. Before you eat take the time to engage all of your senses. If possible observe what your food looks like. Notice the colors and patterns of the food you are about to consume. Touch your food and notice the various textures. Listen to your food to see if it makes any unusual sounds. For example, raisins make a crinkling noise when you put your ear up to them. Smell your food and notice how your salivary glands react to this sensation. Finally begin to eat and focus your attention on the sensations you experience while chewing your food slowly. Taking the time to stimulate all of yours senses might be something you take for granted anyway. Eating mindfully is an advantageous way to incorporate this into your field of awareness.

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As you practice mindful eating and learn how to enhance your sense, you will most likely notice a shift in how you live your life. Hopefully you will embrace the sense of freedom that allows you to live more presently and fully.

2. Savor the Flavor

I have been a major culprit in the past of inhaling my food and not enjoying the taste of it. This is especially apparent after exercise when my body is craving nourishment. I often don’t have the patience to eat slowly because my only objective is to fill up with as much food as quickly as possible. I don’t suggest utilizing this habit of eating. Eating is supposed to be a gratifying experience. How can you savor the food you are eating and truly taste it if you are concentrated on merely shoving as much as you can down your gullet? Chew slowly. Observe what the food feels like in your mouth. Put your fork, knife or spoon down from time to time while you are eating so you can be completely present with what you are doing.

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Also, if possible, refrain from watching T.V. or reading your phone or even talking. Place all of your attention on eating. I think you will notice that food has never tasted so delicious. When you place all of your awareness and attention on eating you begin to form a more appreciative relationship with the food you eat. It is not just about satisfying your desire to eat because you will start to feel grateful for what you are eating and the people who helped make that possible.

3. Eat Smaller Portions

Eating healthily is about eating the necessary sized portion. Many people overeat as a result of not paying attention to what they are eating and how much food they consume. They eat unconsciously not noticing how much they are consuming. By eating mindfully you will only eat until you have had your fill. You will begin to observe the feelings of being satisfied. You will know when you have had enough to eat because you are consciously paying attention to what you are doing. When you consume your food mindfully and slowly there is no need to stuff yourself. You will gain awareness of your bodily sensations and you will understand the signs of being sated more clearly.

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4. Live With a Healthy Weight

Mindful eating helps with portion control. Controlling your portions ensures you will eat only as much as your body requires. Many people eat as a coping mechanism for stress, depression, or grief. They eat even though they aren’t hungry. Eating mindfully helps you eat the right amount every time you consume food. If you are overweight, over time, portion control will help you lose unnecessary weight. As you continue to eat mindfully, you will be able to keep the weight off and live with a healthy and fulfilled body. Paying attention to the sensations from your body is vitally important. Only through mindful eating can you really gain a sense of being full. Your mind may try to convince you otherwise, but only your body will know if you have eaten enough or not.

5. Live Presently

So what is mindfulness really about? Why is eating mindfully so important and necessary to a happy existence? Practicing mindfulness becomes habitual. Just as your negative habits cause you to feel lousy at times, building beneficial habits can help your quality of life increase. Mindful eating is one merely one way you can invigorate your life with contentment and joy. You only experience this because you learn how to be in the present moment, disregarding the constant thoughts that arise about the past and the future.

As I stated previously, eating is something many people take for granted. You might eat but do you really enjoy the experience? How often do you eat without doing anything else? How often are you present with your food? Your well-being is dependent on your ability to be present with whatever you are doing. Practicing mindful eating promotes your ability to live in the moment. This is crucial because this is what life is all about! Enjoying the moment to moment experiences without giving validation to the judgments or negative thoughts swirling around in your mind. There are many mindfulness practices you can undertake that will assist in living more presently. I think eating mindfully is one the most effective practices you can learn. You probably won’t be able to eat every meal mindfully in the beginning, but with practice it will become easier and more enjoyable.

Featured photo credit: My Fitness Pal via 1y2u3hx8yml32svgcf0087imj-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com

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Mike Oppland

Mike is the Creator of Carpe Diem Motivation. He aspires to inspire individuals who are seeking a little extra boost in their lives.

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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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