By Edward Mugambi
One of the biggest stressors for college students is trying to develop healthy eating habits. College life is full of obstacles to healthy eating. One way to avoid going to the supermarket or the kitchen often, is to practice the art of mindful eating. Mindfulness refers to the desire to bring one’s consciousness to the present moment. In other words, it means doing something without attracting too much attention.
Imagine a student eating dinner in front of the television, texting a friend, reading an article, or browsing Facebook. When this happens, students often eat more than usual because they don’t like the food and are out of touch with the bodily processes that tell us when to stop eating. On the other hand, when a student sits down to eat with a friend and eats more slowly, they may be more aware of hunger symptoms. Therefore, mindfulness requires the belief that the body can maintain a healthy balance. Here are tips for mindful eating on campus:
- Consciousness: use your senses to gather information about the environment. By using sight, hearing, touch and taste, we can constantly adapt to what is happening around us. To turn inward, you will better understand hunger, satiety, and thirst to help guide food choices.
- Observe: As an unbiased observer, pay attention to your thoughts and feelings. The key is not to make decisions. For example, if you have an I’m fat thought, write it down, label it a negative thought and move on.
- Quit autopilot mode: some of our habits become so common that it’s hard to pay attention to details. These habits often allow us to eat light or skip meals. As a result, we may want to change our routines or raise awareness to pay more attention.
- Explore the gray area: Thinking in black and white applies to extreme thinking. Food is either good or bad. Some people are overweight or thin. Of course, life is not that simple. To be careful, you need to be flexible and avoid working in extreme situations. For example, there are people who do not include bread in their diet. Sometimes this deprivation can cause a person to eat too much bread. A caring eater, on the other hand, recognizes that they have a special craving and allows themselves a good amount of bread when they want it.
- Live in the moment: students often have multiple responsibilities, including eating. Ideally, an attentive eater should sit at the table with their food and eat wholeheartedly. But for students, this is not always a practical goal. Try making small adjustments to help you stay present during meals, such as always sitting down, turning off your phone, stopping texting and posting on Facebook before the meal is over.
- Acceptance: consider the opposite of what you think. In his book, Dr. Albers gives a perfect example of accepting our shoe size, even if we’d like it to be different, because there’s nothing we can do about it.
Eating consciously is a valuable skill because it helps us eat exactly what our bodies need, and in moderation.