Mindful Eating

When I say “healthy,” what comes to mind? Perhaps you think of broccoli or a long-distance runner. While habits and decisions regarding nutrition and exercise will directly affect your health, there’s ultimately a whole field full of factors that determine if your health status is to thrive – or just survive.

Weight gain, for example, is a very simple concept – calories in exceed calories out. To lose weight, you must eat less, move more or do a combination of the two. Saying it like that is like giving a person a brand new car without teaching them how to drive. Sure, they have the big concept, but they still need to be guided down the road until they can drive themselves.

So, why do people exercise too little and consume too much? It’s a multifaceted question, but a big factor is our inability to be mindful.

Being mindful isn’t just about drinking tea and meditation. Mindfulness is self-consciousness, learning to be present in the moment and more importantly, to enjoy that moment.

On a daily basis you’re surround¬ed by food, often eating when you’re not hungry and continuing to eat when you’re full. After finishing an episode of “Duck Dynasty,” you look down and suddenly realize you’ve de¬voured the entire bag of chips. Were you that hungry? Probably not. By being mindful, you can avoid these costly mishaps.

People tend to make poor food choices and easily overeat when they’re not paying attention. What’s worse is the fact that you miss out on the satisfaction of the food. To enjoy a savory dessert, it is important to be mindful and fully enjoy each bite. Your appreciation will lead to fewer indulgences in the future.

Nutrition and exercise, however, aren’t the only factors to look at here. Being mindful also enhances your mental health. Students are constantly stressed out trying to balance school, work, athletics and their social lives. It’s not rare to see students at the library eating dinner, studying for an exam and surfing Facebook, simultaneously.

But is this really the best approach? Wouldn’t it be more enjoyable to focus on one task at a time? When studying, don’t think about the exam in a few weeks and psych yourself out. Instead, think about what you can do in the present moment to be prepared.

College is a fast-paced, “get-it-done and move-on” kind of culture. If we learn to slow down, be mindful and live in the present moment, our bodies and our overall well-being will be in better shape.