Healthier LivingBehavioral Health
May 29, 2024

Improve mental well-being with mindful eating

There is good news when it comes to food improving your mental well-being. It has to do with two magic words that we can all strive to achieve: Mindful eating.

Benefits of mindful eating

Mindful eating is maintaining an in-the-moment awareness of the food and drink you put into your body. Paying close attention to how you feel as you eat has many rewards, including improving your mental well-being in a big way! Mindful eating can help you:

  • Slow down and take a break from your busy day, easing stress and anxiety.
  • Realize when you turn to food for reasons other than hunger.
  • Savor the foods you eat as you learn to slow down and appreciate meals and snacks.
  • Digest better by eating slower.
  • Feel fuller by eating less food.
  • Feel gratitude for everyone involved in the preparation of your food.
  • Eat a healthier and more balanced way.

Practice mindful eating

It’s time to put down your phone and turn off the TV to practice mindful eating. Focus your attention on your food and the experience of cooking, serving, and eating.

  • Begin with feet on the ground. Notice your breathing. Bring your awareness to the present moment. Notice any thoughts, sensations, and emotions you are experiencing.
  • Tune into your body and notice if you feel hungry, thirsty, or maybe even full. If you were going to eat or drink something right now, what is your body hungry for? What is it thirsty for? Pay attention and notice, with awareness, the sensations you are experiencing.
  • Choose a raisin, a small piece of chocolate, or a bite of any food you enjoy. Bring your attention to the piece of food. Imagine you are a scientist, examining this food for the first time.
  • First, look closely at your food. Notice its shape, size, and color.
  • Now, smell the food carefully. What do you notice?
  • Do you notice any sounds? If you are eating something like a raisin, try holding it close to your ear as you squeeze it gently. Or if you’re unwrapping a chocolate, listen to the wrapper crinkle as you unfold it. Continue to breathe as you explore your food.
  • What do you feel with your fingers? Is the food warm or cold? Is it smooth or rough? Is it wet, dry, or sticky?
  • Bring the food slowly toward your mouth. Place it on your tongue, but do not chew it yet. Feel the texture on your tongue. What do you taste?
  • Start to chew it, very slowly. Notice how the taste changes as you chew. Notice how the texture changes.
  • When you swallow, how far can you feel the food travel into your body. Notice the feeling in your stomach as you digest the food.

By giving your full attention to the experience of eating, you may find a common meal becomes a richer experience.

Mindful eating only works when there’s food

While mindful eating has been shown to improve mental well-being, one would argue that’s only if there’s enough food to put on the table. When there isn’t, or if a person doesn’t know where their next meal will come from, we call this food insecurity, which can negatively impact mental well-being.

Blue KC is committed to helping reduce food insecurity with our Well Stocked Initiative, which addresses the social needs associated with hunger in Kansas City. Here are recent examples:

  • Blue KC supported Well Stocked partners Harvesters, Cultivate KC, and Kanbe’s Markets during National Volunteer Week in April. Our employees packaged food at Harvesters, worked on an area farm for Cultivate KC, and sorted produce for Kanbe’s to sell at low prices in Kansas City urban core convenience stores.
  • In late April, we partnered with Kansas City Community Gardens (KCCG) at its annual Tomato Days plant sale, which provided hundreds of low-income KCCG members with plants that will help them grow their own healthy foods in home and community gardens. Blue KC has been a long-time supporter of KCCG efforts of increasing access to nutritious foods in underserved neighborhoods.

Blue KC connects people to food assistance

Blue KC is pleased to help connect Kansas Citians to free and reduced-cost food assistance — including emergency food, food delivery, food pantries, and help paying for food — through its Community Support Tool. The Community Support Tool compiles local support services in one directory. Simply enter a ZIP code, then choose the service needed. In addition to food assistance, the tool includes transit, housing, care, legal, and other services.

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