When I started feeding myself for optimal health, life got a lot easier for me. While changing what I ate was unquestionably the answer to most of my health woes, mindful eating helped me tremendously to get to a state of overall well-being.
In short, mindfulness is a practice of staying present and keeping tabs on how you're affected by external factors. These factors include your environment, relationships, or even how eating certain foods makes you feel.
Mindful eating applies these practices to your diet. I started eating mindfully for the sake of my health, and as it became habitual I started to apply its principles elsewhere in my life. Mindfulness helped me get my s**t together, I highly suggest trying it out for yourself even if it's just your eating habits you want to change.
It forces you to slow down.
Slowing down isn’t an action a student wants to hear they should be doing. With so many commitments and only so many hours in the day, a mindful eating practice slices time out where you have to tune in. We eat multiple times each day, so slow down during these moments to check in with how you're feeling.
It's easy push past the body's signals that something isn't quite right. Things like emotional eating because of stress can disguise itself as hunger, and mindless eating can also just be a distraction.
Your body needs ample nourishment, so you should never starve yourself but rather take a hot second to check in with why you're eating if something seems off. Delve into understanding what's stressing you out, if there are patterns and triggers to your hunger.
It lets you nurture your relationship to food.
No matter what's in your bowl or on your plate, being mindful about it is the first step to lasting wellness. But chances are, the more wholesome foods you eat, the better you'll feel. Eventually, you'll likely crave foods that make you feel good, and binging on sugar will become a habit of the past.
Speaking specifically to applying mindfulness principles to food, everything from your skin to your gut health and immune system can be impacted by what you eat. Check in with what you're eating and how those foods make you feel. Make your own rules, no one diet fits all.
Looking at food not as a punishment or a reward, but rather as a tool to feel your best will foster a healthier relationship to it and help you avoid disordered eating habits.
You'll start paying the same kind of attention to other aspects of your life.
So now you recognize that you feel sluggish and tired after lunch, and act upon it by switching to eating something that leaves you with more energy. It's a baby step in the process of eating to feel well. Next, check in with what else in your life doesn't invigorate you. Maybe certain relationships you're involved in make you tense, or you get sick when you're stressed out.
This practice is all about helping how you handle external factors, pushing past problems that need to be addressed and/or changed is not sustainable. Acting upon feeling is one of the best things you can do for yourself in college, this is a time for you to grow and make space for yourself in the world.