Poor nutrition, obesity, and other food-related problems are all too common with family caregivers. The stress of caring for an elderly relative’s needs can often take quite a toll on the caregiver’s health and wellness. One strategy to combat overeating and poor nutrition is to practice mindful eating. It’s easy to turn to food when a caregiver is feeling stressed, sad, lonely, frustrated, or bored. Mindful eating can help combat these feelings and get you on the right track to better health.
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is an approach to meals that emphasizes being in the moment and focusing on the food and the experience of eating. Using mindful eating, people eat slowly and deliberately. They eliminate all distractions and enjoy each bite, taking the time to appreciate the tastes and textures of the food they are eating. It’s also about listening to the body and only eating when hungry and stopping when comfortably full.
Why is Mindful Eating So Hard?
Food has emerged from what we use to fuel the body to covering up a number of mental and physical problems. Overating, emotional eating, binge eating, and more are catapulting people into unhealthy lifestyles, diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity. It’s too easy to eat while distracted and to be influenced by super-sized portions when the body doesn’t really need all that. In today’s fast-paced and busy world, people often eat on the go or while doing several other tasks like driving, watching television, or working.
Mindful eating allows people to shut down all the distractions and the emotional reasons behind eating and simply focus on the food and the body. It enhances their ability to look at their motivations behind everything they eat and therefore gives them control. Family caregivers with a lot of stress and distractions can really benefit from mindful eating.
How to Begin Mindful Eating.
There are several things that family caregivers and others can do to start the practice of mindful eating.
- Start slowly. It’s going to be impossible to engage in mindful eating all at once. That’s why most people pick one meal where they have the most control to begin. Begin with that meal, for example breakfast, and practice mindful eating for a few weeks. Then move to the second meal, and so forth.
- Focus on food. Make sure the meals are as healthy as possible, and spend a minute or two appreciating it before beginning. Engage all the senses and think about the way the food looks and smells. Make the act of eating pleasurable by slowing down and enjoying it.
- Chew food slowly. Studies show that eating slower can make people feel fuller even if they don’t eat as much. Make 25 to 30 chews per mouthful the goal.
- Eliminate distractions. Turn off smartphones, TVs, and radios and put down the magazines and bills. Do what it takes to control the atmosphere and be mindful of the meal.
- Portion control. Instead of focusing on cleaning the place, serve small portions and stop eating when the body feels full. Many people today equate feeling “stuffed” as full but mindful eaters soon become aware of when their bodies go from hungry to not hungry.
If you or an aging loved one are considering caregiver services in River Oaks, TX, contact the caring staff at Personal Caregiving Services at 832-564-0338. Providing Care in Houston, Bellaire, West University Place, Katy, and Sugar Land and the surrounding areas.
In 1989 after selling his family owned food service business, Mr. Gerber pursued his compassion for the elderly by completing his geriatric education and training requirements to be a licensed nursing home administrator (LNFA) from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.Previously he received his undergraduate business degree from the University of Texas at Austin and his Masters in business administration (MBA) from the University of Houston.In 2003, Mr. Gerber earned his Certification to be a Senior Advisor (CSA).
Sid Gerber is a Google Verified Author