Mindful and purposeful eating has many advantages for us mentally and physically. In contrast, the consequences of overeating can have severe effects on our physical and mental body. Generally we overeat because we are not dedicated to the act of eating. We watch television, chat on the phone or even eat whilst driving. Stimulation from these other external activities takes away the focus from eating thus we do not realise we are full until it is too late.
The stomach is actually only the size of a fist but it is a muscle sac so it can expand up to three times the size hence why we manage to eat large plates of food.
Overeating can cause severe imbalances in the body based on the high intake of food and the overloading of the digestive system. If overeating happens frequently the body is less able to properly digest, dispose and reuse fats, salt and carbohydrates. Overeating causes a large amount of stress in the body, particularly in the digestive system. The stress caused by overeating creates more toxins in our body. Because of the build up of these toxins and the excess amount of food to digest, our bodies have to work even harder than if would need to if we eat mindfully.
Weight gain is the most obvious physical attribute to overeating and obesity is becoming a huge problem. When we overeat, we generally intake more calories than is needed by the body and if this happens, we will most likely gain weight. Being overweight affects far more than just a physical appearance. It can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and joint problems.
When you overeat you feel tired, full and heavy with a severe lack of energy. Have you ever felt the need to lie down or sleep after a large meal? The body is so busy using all its energy to digest the unnecessary food ,that we are incapable of functioning to our full potential. A heavy bloated feeling will prohibit the participation of regular exercise and the continuation of an inactive body can lead to blockages and imbalances in our body with the energy unable to flow freely and be used to its best capacity. From this we can expect some difficulties with our mental health.
Emotional or even mindless eating can affect our strength, willpower, and clarity. We can be left feeling weak and numb with a loss of control. The lack of energy can affect our relationships, work and social life. When we are bloated and heavy it is hard to move around at ease. Weight gain is also a huge contributor to low self esteem.
The great news is that overeating can easily be stopped before any of these problems begin by simply practising mindfulness in regards to our eating habits. It is important that we eat to get the right nutritional balances in our bodies and eat the proper food for our body types, but don’t over eat for indulgence, addiction, or emotional reasons. Start by thinking about what you are putting into your body, the purpose and the nutrition of the foods you are taking in, and pay attention to the portion sizes. Are you eating just what you need, or taking more for others reasons?
A little step in a mindful direction can cure your overeating habits and prevent possible severe side-effects caused by overstimulation and stress of your digestive system. The best way to avoid over-eating is to develop healthy eating habits according to the Law of Nature and follow the BITS Nutritional guidelines—
- Eat slowly. A helpful tip is to count every chew that you take until your food is chewed as much as it can be. Some say you should ultimately “drink your food” by chewing it so small it becomes like liquid. This allows for the food to break down easier in the digestive track and will foster faster absorption in the body
- Eat at a moderate pace. Monitor the pace of eating by putting the fork down in between bites. This is also a great practise for focusing on the present moment. When you put the fork down you focus on the chewing action of the current food in your mouth instead of the bite that is yet to come.
- Enjoy your food. Eat food that is healthy that you enjoy. Don’t force yourself to eat things that you hate. We are meant to enjoy the healthy, whole, non-processed foods we are eating. You can even start with your dessert. By having the sweet part of the meal in the beginning, you start off with more satisfaction and then you can stop eating earlier—when you get satisfied by your food, then you don’t need to overeat.
- Don’t split your attention. When you eat make sure you are focusing your attention on the actual act of eating. By doing this you become mindful of how your body is reacting to the food, how much you are eating, and it enables many of the other guidelines. Eating while distracted causes you to easily overindulge because you are simply not aware of your intake and pace.
- Satisfy all tastes in a meal. The key to your body being satisfied by a meal is to create a balance of tastes within each sitting. These include sour, salty, sweet, bitter, savory, and pungent properties. You can add in the sour taste element through citrus foods like lemon or sour vegetables. Most salt can be taken in naturally from the foods that we eat, but if you add salt to your meal, use a non-refined salt like sea salt, himalayan salt, or even seaweed. There are many ways to get sweet flavors from fruits and natural sweeteners—stay away from refined sugar. Kale, spinach, and celery are great to get the bitter taste on the palate. Savory foods can include peanut butter, sesame butter, cinnamon, chilli, turmeric & other spices). Pungent foods have an element of spice and can be added to a meal through radishes,ginger or beet root.
- Sit down after your meal. For at least 10 minutes after eating, sit with your legs folded under you so that you are sitting on your heels. This cuts off the blood circulation in your legs which allows for more blood and energy to be active in your digestion tract allowing for faster digestion. Faster digestion allows us to get more energy from our food versus being weighed down or exhausted by the process.
Use these guidelines to help you take care of your body physically and mentally. By creating healthy eating habits, you set yourself up to take full advantage of your food and the earth’s offerings. The best way to protect yourself from disease and health problems is through the food you put in your body. When you watch not only what you eat, but how you eat you, you can prevent many of the problems that we mentioned earlier. Be mindful, be healthy, and be happy.