Learn how mindful eating and positive self-talk can improve your relationship with food and overall well-being. Plus, easy ways to start practicing mindful eating and strategies to improve your internal dialogue.
It’s no secret that mindful eating and positive self-talk are two habits that can foster a healthier relationship with food and improve your overall health. Often these habits are not trendy to talk about on social media but they contribute massively to how we feel about ourselves.
Whether you want to heal your relationship with food and quit diets, or are looking for ways to improve your mental health, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading to discover the connection between how mindful eating and positive self-talk affect your gut health, weight management, and stress levels, and influence your mental health. Plus, we’ve included two fun holiday recipes to help you practice mindfulness in the kitchen!
WHAT IS MINDFUL EATING?
While mindful eating isn’t a new concept what does it really mean? Each person has their own definition and practices mindful eating a little differently. In a nutshell, mindful eating means paying attention to your emotional and physical senses while eating and drinking.
When we do this we are aware of how certain foods make us feel, our satiety signals, and satisfaction with our meals. This feedback prevents us from overeating, creates healthier eating habits, and helps us make better food choices. We also learn the connection between what we eat and how it impacts our energy and moods.
Practicing mindful eating is not about judgment but about acknowledging and accepting the feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations we’re observing.
STRESS LESS AND EAT MINDFULLY FOR BETTER DIGESTION
Eating while we’re stressed can have negative consequences. “Stress eating can affect the balance of mindful eating and can lead to a spiral of problems of weight gain and negative body image”, says Amanda Sauceda, MS, RD, the founder of the Mindful Gut approach.
Experiencing elevated levels of stress that go unaddressed can negatively affect our digestive system. In more severe instances, it can result in a reduction of blood flow and oxygen supply to the stomach, potentially causing cramps, inflammation, or a disruption in the balance of gut bacteria. Additionally, it can amplify the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and peptic ulcers.
“Mindful eating is one of the best things you can do to improve your gut health,” adds Sauceda. “When you eat mindfully you can notice improved digestion and a more balanced microbiome.”
On the flip side, positive emotions such as joy and gratitude have a beneficial effect on the gut, fostering a well-functioning digestive system and overall well-being. To alleviate digestive issues like bloating, gas, and constipation, practice mindful eating at every meal.
Try mindful eating while making this easy no-bake vegan cheesecake. Prepare to be amazed by this delightful pumpkin cheesecake featuring a secret ingredient – cauliflower! Despite its presence, you won’t detect it, but the cooked cauliflower contributes a velvety texture when mixed with the rest of the ingredients along with a healthy dose of fiber.
MASTERING MINDFUL EATING FOR EFFORTLESS WEIGHT MAINTENANCE With Self-Talk
Most diets never provide lasting results and are hard to stick with long-term. In a meta-analysis of 29 long-term weight loss studies, over 80% of individuals who lost weight regained it within 5 years.
Fortunately, mindful eating is one of the alternatives to dieting that can bring lasting results without future weight gain. Shifting your mindset from cutting back or cutting out certain food groups to eating healthier and choosing nourishing foods can optimize your energy and help you feel good about your body. This also encourages you to pay attention to your fullness cues to avoid overeating.
Mindful eating is also very effective for those of us who tend to stress eat or emotionally eat. Instead of eating because we’re hungry, we eat because we are looking for a distraction. It’s a self-soothing coping mechanism that doesn’t solve the root of our issues.
By tuning into our body’s hunger and fullness cues, we can foster a healthier relationship with food, potentially resulting in weight loss.
POSITIVELY TALK YOUR WAY TO WELLNESS
A healthy mindset and overall well-being starts with having a positive dialogue with yourself. Positive self-talk plays a pivotal role in shaping a healthy mindset around our body image and well-being by fostering self-acceptance and mindfulness. This creates a positive relationship with both food and yourself.
Blanca Garcia, RD nutritionist at Health Canal shares “When it comes to counteracting negative body images and bolstering a healthy mindset, it’s all about how we talk to ourselves. The mind is powerful, and how you talk to yourself, whether in a positive or negative tone, can make a difference.”
Positive self-talk builds self-compassion and self-acceptance by treating ourselves with kindness and understanding regardless of societal standards or perceived imperfections. Our positive mindset celebrates our body the way it is and actively counters negative narratives to reframe destructive thoughts related to body image.
“Talking about all the positive things you are doing to help you be healthy can shift how you feel,” says Garcia. It can also help us shift our focus from appearances to overall health and well-being and guide us toward more mindful eating practices.
USING POSITIVE SELF-TALK AS YOUR STRESS BUSTER
Whether we’re aware of it or not we all talk to ourselves. Self-talk influences our mental health and affects our relationships with others. This inner monologue is a combination of our beliefs, viewpoints, and biases. Whether it’s a positive and supportive voice or a negative one that undermines our confidence, this monologue influences how we feel and what we do.
A persistent daily negative thought stream can make us feel bad most of the time causing us to perceive life as more stressful than it is in reality. This creates unnecessary stress and anxiety making you less equipped to handle the challenges you face or only seeing the negatives in every situation.
In contrast, positive thinking doesn’t mean you falsely spin every situation into something positive. It just means you approach the situation from a more optimistic perspective. You think the best is going to happen instead of expecting the worst.
Positive thinking comes with many benefits such as increased life span, greater resistance to illness, better cardiovascular health, and improved coping skills during hardship and times of stress. It enables better coping skills for stressful situations reducing the harmful effects of stress on your body.
DAILY DELIGHTS: TIPS FOR MINDFUL EATING AND POSITIVE SELF-TALK
Now that we know why mindful eating and positive self-talk are important for our well-being let’s cover some practical tips on how to apply it to our lifestyle. Start with applying one tip consistently to avoid overwhelming yourself to build a daily habit.
MINDFUL EATING TIPS
1. CHEW WITH INTENTION
Chewing is a fundamental aspect of mindful eating, as it contributes to the overall enjoyment and digestion of food. This simple act can bring awareness to your eating pace and encourage a slower, more mindful approach to chewing. “Chewing is the start of digestion and the one thing you can influence the most,” adds Sauceda. “When you chew your food well you’re making it easier for the rest of your gut to break that food down.”
2. DITCH DISTRACTIONS FOR MINDFUL INDULGENCE
Eliminating distractions during meals is a key aspect of mindful eating, allowing you to fully engage with the experience of eating. Remember, the goal of mindful eating is to bring awareness to your meals so you can savor the experience and make healthier food choices.
Start by creating a spot to enjoy your meals without the visual distractions of work, papers or electronics. Put away your devices during meal times so that you can be present to pay attention to the physical sensations and emotions that come up.
3. HUNGRY OR HABIT? THE ULTIMATE CHECK-IN CHALLENGE
Asking yourself if you’re hungry before you eat is a crucial aspect of mindful eating. It helps you tune in to your body’s signals and make more intentional choices about when and what to eat.
An effective way to do this is to do a check-in before grabbing a meal or snack and rating your hunger. This simple checkpoint encourages self-awareness of hunger cues to help you gauge how hungry you are to make an informed decision about portion sizes.
The checkpoint also helps you differentiate between true hunger and emotional hunger triggers such as stress, boredom, or anxiety. If you’re eating for reasons other than hunger, explore alternative coping mechanisms.
Regularly checking in with your hunger levels allows you to develop a healthier relationship with food and make choices that support your overall well-being.
POSITIVE SELF-TALK STRATEGIES
1. DODGE NEGATIVE SELF-TALK PITFALLS
Recognizing and overcoming negative self-talk traps is essential for fostering a more positive and constructive inner conversation. Some negative self-talk traps include resorting to an all-or-nothing thinking where scenarios and situations are viewed in black-and-white terms. Instead, strive to find the middle ground and gray areas.
Another negative self-talk trap is setting yourself up for unrealistic or perfectionist standards. When you’re using the words ‘should’ or ‘must’ you are imposing unrealistic standards on yourself. Replace these expectations with more realistic and achievable goals with more flexible and compassionate language that acknowledges your efforts.
2. TRANSFORM MOMENTS WITH SELF CHECK-INS
Set reminders throughout the day to check in with your self-talk especially if you’re having a bad day. Pause and ask yourself if your language is becoming negative and if so, how can you turn it around?
If you’re struggling with this imagine having a dialogue with a good friend. What advice would a supportive, compassionate friend give to you in your situation? Use your coping skills to flip the script and to stop fixating on negative thinking patterns.
3. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH POSITIVE POWER
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Surrounding yourself with people who make you feel good can help alter your outlook and attitude on life to a more positive one.
The influence and emotions of the people you surround yourself with can have a massive impact on your self-image. If your friends exhibit negativity, self-defeating attitudes, and excessive criticism, it may be worth exploring relationships with individuals who can inspire you to prioritize your well-being and embrace self-love.
A fun group activity to do while spending time with positive friends and practicing mindfulness is making this holiday healthy dark chocolate bark recipe. Taking only 20 minutes they are perfect for gifting and filled with good-for-you nutrients.
The Mindful Eating Takeaway
There are many ways that mindful eating and positive thinking influence your overall health and mental well-being – including but not limited to gut health, weight management, stress reduction, and a healthier mindset. The road to improving your overall health doesn’t happen overnight but you can work towards it by creating more awareness during meal times and making positive mindset shifts that are conducive to a healthier well-being.