At Home? Counter All Snack-Attacks With Mindfulness!Luke Coutinho
Snacks are small portions of food that people have between meals. They are usually a way to bridge long gaps between meals or fill in any gaps in nutrition. Earlier, snacks were fresh, prepared at home, and the portion size was controlled. Today, with the advancement of technology, busier lifestyles, less time to cook, more and more packaged snacks have replaced homemade goodness. Supermarkets are filled with countless options from chips to namkeens, crackers and cookies to thousands of brands and varieties to choose from.
With the on-going pandemic, when more emphasis is on immunity, snack brands are coming up with healthier versions of low-fat, baked, or sugar-free snacks. But, only a few of them are genuinely healthy. To identify the best ones, it’s important to know how to read the label. Click the following link to learn How to read food labels correctly.
Even if the snacks are healthy, we must be mindful while consuming them. Commercially available snacks are either high in salt or sugar, which can have an addictive effect if you eat mindlessly. When you eat with distractions, you do not have control over the quantity you’ve consumed. This slowly increases your threshold for a particular snack. So, if you were satisfied with one pack, before, now you don’t feel satisfied with two or even three packets. Hence mindful snacking is of utmost importance.
So, what is Mindful Snacking? And how can we practice it?
The term mindful means ‘to be aware’. Mindful snacking is when you are aware of the taste, texture, color of the snack and its effect on your body.
We always talk about changing lifestyles to achieve good health. Being mindful is one of the most important lifestyle changes one should work on. When we are stressed, our sympathetic nervous system is activated (fight or flight mode), making the process of eating disadvantageous to the body as there isn’t appropriate secretion of digestive juices and sufficient communication between our cells. This leads to an imbalance in the distribution of nutrients which further leads to nutrient deficiencies, impaired gut health, and disease.
We should always eat when our parasympathetic nervous system is activated or in the rest and digest mode. When you eat in a relaxed environment, there is good communication between cells, proper digestion, absorption, and assimilation of nutrients, which will help you stay fit.
Such is the impact of correcting just one habit – eating your food mindfully.
Mindfulness is the key to all your overeating woes. It also helps to improve your relationship with the food. It enables you to break that habit of using food for comfort or tackling emotions. When you are mindful, you also learn to understand the difference between emotional and physical hunger.
Here is how you can snack mindfully:
- Check if you’re really hungry: Ask yourself if you are hungry for a snack or want to eat to fight boredom or relieve stress. If your answer is the latter, then you do not need a snack. You need to divert your mind with some physical activity or take a few deep breaths or find someone to chat with to relieve any stress.
- Eliminate distractions: Focus all your attention on the food in front of you. If you are distracted, you will not be able to identify the satiety signals generated by your brain. Remember the time you opened a bag of popcorn, thinking you will eat just half, but the movie was so interesting that you ended up finishing the whole packet. This is called mindless eating. Eliminate all distractions like watching television or playing on your phone while eating.
- Eat small proportions slowly: Take one bite and then put the spoon down. Chew that bite slowly so that it thoroughly mixes with the saliva. This will ensure good digestion and will also help you understand when your stomach is full. Empty your snack in a small bowl rather than eating it directly from the packet.
- Relish your food: Engage your senses during snacking. Be aware of the color, texture, flavor, appearance, and aroma while you eat. Close your eyes and take in the aroma. It will aid the secretion of saliva even before you put the food in your mouth. Take one morsel, and allow your tongue to explore the flavors and texture of the food. Close your eyes and recognize how it feels, tastes, and its flavor in your mouth.
- Practice self-restraint: It’s important to practice self-restraint to help correct mindless eating habits. Pause and think, are you satisfied or do you really need more? You need to reprogram your mind that this small quantity is what you need. Over time, this restraint will become a habit too. Plus tracking your portion size saves you from the guilt of overeating.
For you to practice mindful snacking, planning is needed.
Here are a few tips on how you can ensure that every bite you take is a healthy one.
- Plan your pantry: When you go shopping, always read labels. Identify the ingredients and then decide if they are suitable for you or not.
- Choose nutrient-dense snacks: Select snacks that can provide various nutrients in small servings. Snacks aid the overall nutrition you get from food. Choose food that is devoid of refined sugar, refined oil, and refined flour. A few examples are nut-based snacks, snacks with added superfoods like gooseberry (amla), moringa, cumin, and snacks made with organic jaggery.
- Check portion size: Purchase small packs or single-serve packs. When making homemade snacks, take small portions. Finish it and then check with yourself if you need more.
Find healthy snacking options on You Care Lifestyle.
It’s not hard to stay mindful. You only need a little practice and discipline. After all, practice is what makes you perfect. It’s completely okay if you cannot do it 100% from the start; take your time. Always remember to come back on track the next day. Mindful snacking will help you achieve your health goals! It’s not only going to give you strength but mental peace too.
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