Mindful Eating. What Is It and Why Does It Matter?

Grocery shopper plans meals and chooses food wisely while practice mindful eating for healthier life. Surgical Association of Mobile logo at bottom left.

Mindfulness plays a very important part of the postoperative lifestyle. Mindfulness is a very simple concept – to be in the present moment when performing various activities. For a bariatric patient that might be understanding and appreciating the eating process as it is happening. We spend a good portion of our lives in or around the kitchen or at restaurants eating, grazing, or drinking. However, as we do these things, we are rarely focusing on what we are doing and what is going in our bodies. Often, we are distracted by conversation, television, driving or other stressors and distractions in our lives. The result is we can’t fully appreciate our food, and we don’t even necessarily know what we are eating. While this may seem trivial, it makes it more difficult for us to control what we eat and to appreciate and enjoy the new lifestyle that we are embarking upon. Enjoying and understanding the food we are eating makes for a better postoperative experience, can allow us to understand our eating patterns, and generally slows us down during the times we need calm the most.

What are the steps toward mindful eating?

The first step is to choose our foods more wisely. Understanding the foods we buy is a part of mindful eating. If we buy just anything, it is more difficult to appreciate the ingredient and understand its nutritional value and how it might taste. Spending time choosing the proper ingredients at the grocery store makes the entire mindfulness process more enjoyable. Then we can then fully appreciate the transformation the food makes from raw to cooked.

Secondly it is important to cook our own food. What better way to know our food and appreciate it than by preparing it and cooking it ourselves? Cooking can also be a great stress relieving activity and for many, represents an achievement they may have never thought possible before.

Research and education on nutrition can also help patients know what they’re putting in their bodies and how it may or may not affect them. There is a lot of inaccurate information on the Internet. Cut through the inaccuracies by being well educated on the benefits and risks of foods, supplements, diets, and exercise.

Last, but not least, is to follow the advice of the trusted medical professionals around you. It may feel like a broken record, but there is a reason why your dietitian, surgeon, and primary care physician all discuss similar nutritional and dietary needs. This advice works and is important for your continued and lasting health.

Of course, whenever you need help with your postoperative life or lifestyle, we encourage you to contact our office and speak to one of our staff members to get your questions answered and get back on track.

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Springhill Medical Center

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