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The benefits of mindful eating: how and why to do it

Written by Allanah Robinson-Cook | Monday, 7 August 2023

gut health nutrition tips and advice

With the expanding focus on gut health as a key pillar of wellbeing comes increasing information regarding the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of it. We are inundated with information regarding what we should or shouldn’t eat, what foods we should eat in combination, what time we should eat, and what temperature our food should be. It’s no wonder that we get lost with where to start!

Undoubtedly, the most important (and cost-effective) area that we should prioritise as a first step on our gut health journey is how we eat.

How we consume food plays a vital role in gastrointestinal function and nutrient absorption.

Throughout the day, we will naturally fluctuate between sympathetic (“fight or flight”) and parasympathetic dominance (“rest and digest”). However, if we are stuck in sympathetic dominance when we decide to ingest food, this is where issues can arise. In a state of stress, our nervous system will intentionally slow digestion to ensure that blood flow and energy is directed to our heart and muscles (so that we could fight or run from a threat). In addition, mindless eating doesn’t allow our body to register food intake and will limit leptin production (our satiety hormone).

Here's where mindful eating comes in. Firstly, what are the benefits of eating mindfully?

Mindful eating benefits:

  • Improves digestive function
  • Optimises nutrient absorption
  • Reduces overeating
  • Reduces food cravings
  • Improves weight parameters

So now we know some of the benefits of eating mindfully, but how can we implement them in our day to day?

Here are just a few mindful eating techniques:

  • Ask yourself questions before eating: am I hungry or thirsty? What type of food does my body need?
  • Create a peaceful eating environment – sit at a table, put food on a plate, use utensils etc
  • Remove distractions (TV, phones, books etc.)
  • Take five deep breaths before starting your meal
  • Chew each bite 20 to 40 times before swallowing
  • Eat slowly – direct your attention to taste, texture, smell, and appearance
  • Place utensils down on your plate between mouthfuls
  • Check in with hunger signals as you eat
  • Take time to enjoy and appreciate your meal

In summary, slow down. Prioritise how you eat before you even think about what supplement might reduce your bloating, or what food group you can eliminate from your diet.

Interested in learning more about gut health and mindful eating?

Book a naturopathy appointment at our Endeavour Wellness Clinic today!

Explore our Bachelor of Health Science (Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine) and our Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy) and set the pace towards a happier, healthier you.

Allanah Robinson-Cook

Allanah is a qualified Naturopath and Exercise Scientist, graduating from Endeavour College of Natural Health with a Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy) with Distinction. She is also registered with the Australian Natural Therapy Association (ANTA).

Her studies began in the field of pre-medicine and paramedicine, but she soon recognised that these fields didn’t support her goal of facilitating long-term positive health changes for her clients. After seeking the support of a naturopath for her own health needs, Allanah discovered a love for naturopathy and being able to identify the root cause of illness.

Allanah has since founded ARC Wellness in 2022, where she consults in Margaret River and online via Telehealth. Her areas of interest lie in skin, gut, mental, paediatric and adolescent health, and athletic performance.

Read more by Allanah Robinson-Cook