Our third topic for National Nutrition Month turns to the idea of mindful eating. Why is mindful eating so important? In our busy, loud and plugged in world, it is easy to put healthy eating on the back burner in place of all the other things we need and want to do. However, this is not the way to go long term. Being mindful of eating isn’t just about slowing down, though that is a part of it. Mindful eating needs to also include where you are eating, how you are eating and what you are eating. Being mindful has multiple benefits to a person’s overall wellness. For example, watching television or looking at your phone while eating a meal can cause you to eat more later on in the day and can lead to weight gain. Food is very psychological, our brains need to feel just as full as our stomachs. If we aren’t literally watching what we eat, you may not satisfy your psychological need for food which causes cravings later on in the day.
This same concept applies to eating on the go. If you are constantly having your meals as you go from one place to the next, visiting drive-thrus and taking your food to go, where is your focus? Probably on driving, walking, or thinking about your next task and not on the meal in front of you.
The life of a college student is far from peaceful, with all the demands on your time how are you supposed to think about what, when and how you are supposed to eat? Here are some tips:
- A reasonably sized meal takes 20 minutes to eat once it is prepared. When scheduling your classes, work and activities, try to allow yourself 40 minutes to prepare/order your food and eat it. If you find yourself eating for more than 20 minutes uninterrupted, you probably have too much food.
- If you must get your food to go, try to eat without distraction of phones or schoolwork before going into your next thing. You may not have 20 minutes, but focusing on your food for 10 minutes is better than a fully distracted meal.
- Eat when you are hungry, and eat slow enough that your body is able to tell you when you are satisfied. Eating too fast can make you overfull before your stomach has the chance to tell your brain that it is satisfied.
- In those rare times when you have plenty of time to eat, ignore your phone, turn off the T.V. and just turn on some music. Eating with friends and family is a good option too. When we watch T.V. or focus on the phone everything in the background is filtered out. Having a conversation during a meal doesn’t do the same thing to us.
At Campus Dining Services, we want you to have the best meal experience possible each time you visit one of our locations. To navigate long lines or wait times, avoid eating at peak times. We have many hours and locations to help with this problem but inevitably, lines will form at noon and 1 p.m. Waiting as little as 10 minutes after the hour to visit a location can make all the difference in how long you need to wait. And give you more time to sit and eat your meal.
- Kristen Hasan, MPH, RD