Savor the Flavor

— Written By Alyssa Anderson
en Español

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When eating lunch, do you focus on tasting the food in front of you? Are you also scrolling through social media, watching TV, or in a rush to move onto the next task for the day? Personally, I have been trying to break my habit of multitasking and eating while I work. Studies have shown that people are more likely to overeat and ignore the body’s cues around hunger when they are distracted while eating. In addition to this, I have heard many people mention that changes in their schedules have made them more likely to eat out of boredom or stress. If you find you are struggling to establish or continue a positive relationship with food, consider incorporating mindful eating into your routine.

Many fad diets consist of rigid eating patterns that can cause feelings of guilt and shame when not strictly followed. These feelings can then potentially lead to binge eating and reinforce negative feelings toward food choices. Mindful eating is a powerful tool that may help you find balance. Mindful eating encompasses many components which include eliminating outside distractions, listening to the body’s internal hunger cues, utilizing all of your senses while eating, letting go of judgments tied to food, and focusing on the nurturing aspects of food.

Utilizing all of the senses while eating can be difficult at the beginning. When teaching about mindful eating, we often practice in class with a piece of dark chocolate. This is a great starting point, but it may still be difficult to see how to translate this activity to full meals. Here are some tips that may help:

  • While preparing meals notice the colors, texture, and appearance of the ingredients.
  • Cutting, peeling, and cooking food offers a great chance to note the different smells of the individual items as well as how those can change as they are combined together.
  • Listen to the sizzling of a hot meal or the crunch of vegetables as they are chopped.
  • When the meal is ready, pay close attention to the flavors and taste. Is it sweet, salty, spicy, bitter, or maybe a combination of these?
  • Also, observe the temperature and texture. Is it smooth, soft, crunchy, or maybe grainy?

Mindful eating can be practiced with a morning cup of coffee, a special dessert, or any snack. Some people even find a change in their preference to certain foods; some foods might start to taste too salty or sweet. Most importantly, eating mindfully should be a positive and enjoyable experience. Try starting with small changes to incorporate this healthy habit into your daily routine.

The goal of the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Lee County Center is to provide the residents of the community with research-based knowledge. For more information on food safety, wellness, and nutrition please contact the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, Alyssa Anderson, MS, RDN, LDN at 919-775-5624.