Thinking about your eating habits

The importance of brain-to-body communication

Continuing to eat after feeling full, while feeling sad or while multitasking are common eating patterns. These patterns, and many others, can simply be caused by a lack of communication between your mind and your body. Thankfully, there are ways to foster this communication and engage in mindful eating.

Psychology Today defines “mindful eating” as paying full attention to what you are eating and drinking, including the textures, flavours, colours and temperatures of the food. It is also noticing your body’s experience and listening to your body. For example, not eating when full, eating when your body tells you to eat (like when your stomach growls), and consuming nutritious foods.

As students, it is important to be as mindful as possible when eating and planning meals. “To me, mindful eating is important because if you don’t nourish your body with important nutrients, you won’t have any energy to do anything during the day,” said Natalie Comfort, a second-year student.  “I try my best to incorporate healthy habits when I am grocery shopping to make sure my meals have all the nutrients I need. I focus on getting colourful veggies and fruits to fuel my body!”

Being conscious of your eating habits can be difficult if you have never done so in the past. There are simple practices that can help you be more in control of your eating patterns.

First, let your body catch up to your brain. It takes some time for your stomach to communicate to your brain that you are full. Slowing down while eating allows your body and mind to communicate.

Additionally, understanding why you are motivated to eat can help you regulate your eating habits. Determine if you are eating a certain food for emotional comfort or because it is nutritious. This is not to say that you are not allowed to eat for emotional comfort – just try to be aware of emotional eating without putting judgment on yourself.

Finally, next time you are relaxing on the couch and think, “I want a snack,” ask yourself, “Am I actually hungry? Or am I eating because I am bored?”  This simple question can help you better understand the communication between your brain and body and lead to great changes in eating habits.

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