Falling in love with food: How is your food life?

Calling all food lovers and comfort eaters.

When it comes to food and managing diabetes, much of the focus centres on what you are eating, how much, and when. But how often do you pay attention to why you eat and the way you do?

In his book, ‘If not dieting, then what?’, Dr Rick Kausman introduces us to the concept of non-hungry eating. That is, the eating we do when we are not physically famished, but rather, because we feel tired, sad, happy, bored… and the list keeps going.

Sometimes we might eat foods that nourish our body, other times, to punish it. Emotional eating is where we might eat foods we love, but quickly, in very large quantities, or in secret. Eating this way can lead to feelings of guilt or shame, or even exhilaration that no one saw you.

Non-hungry eating and emotional eating are both signs of an unhealthy relationship with food that affect your body’s shape, your mood, your self-image and your diabetes.

Enter mindfulness.

Mindfulness is an approach that involves paying attention. Eating mindfully involves slowing down to savour the flavour, and being intentional about the way you eat. It is the complete opposite of eating in auto-pilot (mindless) mode.

Research suggests eating mindfully helps us enjoy a more satisfying relationship with food, and turns preparing and eating food into a sensual experience, not a chore.

In the DiaMind study, people with type 1 and 2 diabetes showed improved emotional wellbeing, quality of life and HbA1c through practicing mindfulness.

To get you started, try this activity at home:

Start with choosing a food that you love, for example strawberries. Approach it as if it is the first time you’ve seen it, with a sense of curiosity.

Before you eat it, take it all in with your eyes, noticing the small miniscule details, like the tiny seeds on the outside of a strawberry, and the different textures and shapes.

Next, raise the strawberry to your nose. Notice the qualities of its scent. Does it smell strong, or subtle? Where do you feel the smell, in your nostrils or at the back of your throat?

Place the strawberry on your closed lips and feel the delicate tickle of the textured skin. Now put the strawberry in your mouth and bite into it. Notice where the burst of flavour hits. Is it at the back, sides or front of your tongue? Slowly notice the change in sensations as you chew, and swallow. Is there an aftertaste?

By practising the art of mindful eating daily, your satisfaction and relationship with food are bound to improve.

For more on mindful eating, download Food and Eating infosheet or download this free e-book.

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