When you’re on the couch binge-watching a TV show, chances are you’re doing something else at the same time — like reading a book, scrolling on your phone or munching on snacks.
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Eating while doing something else can lead to unhealthy habits, though. “We’re not focusing on what we’re eating and how the food tastes or savoring our foods,” says dietitian Maxine Smith, RD, LD.
Yet this kind of idle noshing is common. “Mindless eating is quite easy to do. Food is such a part of everyday life and is so readily accessible,” notes Smith.
But when done on a regular basis, mindless eating just isn’t a good habit. You might consume more unhealthy food than you realize, or get into the habit of eating when you aren’t even hungry.
Embracing a practice known as mindful eating can get you back on track.
What is mindful eating?
Smith says the concept of mindful eating evolved out of mindfulness theory and practices, which encourages people to slow down, live in the moment and pay attention to their actions.
“Mindful eating focuses on the why and the how of eating, versus what’s promoted by many diets, which are more what to eat, how much to eat, maybe even when to eat,” Smith says, “It’s much more of an internal versus external approach to eating.”
Mindful eating is rooted in being thoughtful and analyzing your choices. “Part of mindful eating is to consider the why — what is my intention for eating?” Smith explains. This kind of contemplation is important because it leads to more deliberate — and personalized — food choices.
“You’re really thinking about your values and why it’s important for you personally to eat healthfully,” Smith says. “It may be to improve your health. It may be to improve your energy and digestion. It could be because your clothes aren’t fitting well, and you don’t want to go out and buy a new wardrobe.”
Learning how to eat mindfully also reflects a shift in perspective. “It’s a very empowering approach versus a deprivation approach,” Smith says. “You’re regaining control over food rather than letting it take control of you.”
The benefits of mindful eating
In general, mindful eating leads us to pick more nutritious foods, which has the added bonus of improving our overall eating habits. But embracing mindful eating techniques has multiple benefits beyond just good health.
Promotes better enjoyment of — and appreciation for — food
Remember how good your first taste of ice cream is each summer? Mindful eating can give you that positive feeling year-round — and, as an added bonus, you can achieve satisfaction through smaller portions.
“One of the biggest benefits of practicing mindful eating is that we actually enjoy food more, but in smaller amounts,” Smith says. “If you learn to savor foods, and engage with all of its different sensory aspects, you’ll be satisfied with a kiddie cone versus a double scoop ice cream cone.”
As an added bonus, mindful eating practices can also help you have more gratitude for the food on your table. “The practices include focusing on an appreciation for food and where it came from, as well as appreciating everybody that helped produce that food,” Smith says. “You’ll also develop a sense of thankfulness for all the ways that it’s benefiting our bodies, so you have a more positive appreciation for food.”
Helps curb cravings
Smith describes the practice of mindful eating as being like “reformatting the hard drive of your brain. You’ll start responding differently to different eating cues.” For example, you might notice you’re letting go of unhealthy food cravings and, instead, forming new, healthy ones.
Improves your digestion
Your mouth contains enzymes that help you start digesting food while you’re chewing. When you’re mindfully eating, you’re encouraged to eat more slowly and chew your foods thoroughly. As a result, you digest food earlier — and more effectively. “If someone has digestion problems, eating more slowly can immensely help with that,” Smith says. “A lot of mindful eating practices include chewing foods well, which also helps with the digestive processes.”
Helps regulate eating patterns
In the past, you’ve probably started snacking even when you’re full, or eaten so much at dinner you feel uncomfortably stuffed. Mindful eating is a way to get your eating habits back on track by helping you listen better to signs that you’re hungry or full. “Practicing mindful eating guides us when to start and stop eating based on internal cues,” Smith says. “It also helps with emotional eating and disordered eating patterns.” This includes common eating disorders like binge eating, she adds.
Supports weight management
Another byproduct of listening to your body’s internal cues is developing better weight management techniques. Instead of measuring your hunger by external measures, such as the amount of food on your plate or calories you’re consuming, you’re relying on what your body is telling you.
“Mindful eating can be extremely freeing,” Smith says. “If we say we’re never going to eat something again, it puts the food on a pedestal and makes it even more desirable,” Smith notes. “But if we incorporate some of that into our eating patterns and eat it mindfully, we might find out, ‘Oh, we’re satisfied with just a little bit of that and it’s not all that enticing as our brain is making it out to be.’”
Have a more positive attitude toward food — and ourselves
Over time, it’s easy to develop an unhealthy relationship with food. Mindful eating helps undo long-held negative habits or attitudes. “Mindful eating is a loving and non-shaming approach to eating,” Smith says. “You’re replacing those dos and don’ts of eating, or applying moral implications to food, with an attitude of exploration and curiosity.”
How to practice mindful eating
Because so much mindful eating involves changing your brain and outlook, there are some concrete steps you can take to begin following mindful eating.
Practice mindful eating exercises
Believe it or not, you can do mindful eating exercises to help get your brain in gear. “We have done classes where a person practices being mindful while they’re eating a particular snack,” Smith says. “They’re tuning out all distractions, paying attention to all the sensory implications and aspects of the food, and practicing savoring it.”
Along with this, developing a non-judgmental approach to what you eat — in other words, food is neither “good” nor “bad” — is key. “You also want to pay attention to how that food may help you feel in the short term,” Smith says. “Does that food provide me with energy, or does it provide me with a strong craving to eat more of that food? But you’re not judging that food as good or bad.”
Change your attitude toward food
Having a positive attitude about eating is also crucial, Smith stresses. “If you have a negative attitude, or if you feel deprived, you are very likely to fail,” she says. “So if you say, ‘I can’t have something to eat,’ catch yourself saying that and change it into a positive statement: ‘I choose not to eat that.’”
Put together a daily food plan
Go into every day with a dedicated food plan that spells out what you want to eat for each meal. Smith says this plan should cover healthy foods, as well as foods that might not be as nutritious. “You can have those occasional indulgences, but they’re planned indulgences,” Smith says. “If you go into the day with a plan, include some of those higher-calorie or less-healthy foods, maybe in smaller amounts or less often.” She adds that this proportion is OK because you can get most of your needed daily nutrients if you’re eating healthfully “about 80%, 85% of the time.”
Just be sure not to put too much pressure on yourself by expecting perfection every day.
“Use that plan more like a GPS,” Smith says. “If we want to get to a place, we’re much more likely to arrive there, and arrive there promptly, if we have that GPS. We may have a few diversions along the way, but the sooner that we get back on track, the better. And having a meal plan going into the day is going to help us get there a lot sooner.”
Schedule smaller meals
Between busy work and family schedules, you might find yourself eating only one or two big daily meals instead of spreading out your eating over a full day. “Your stomach can actually become distended (bloated) and then you require more food to have that sense of fullness,” Smith says.
To undo this habit, schedule smaller meals about three hours apart. “These may be a small mini-meal, such as a yogurt and a piece of fruit and a small handful of nuts,” Smith says. “It doesn’t have to be a formal meal. It’s more having something to carry you over, so you don’t go too long without eating and go into the next meal ravenous.” You may need to schedule more of these meals at first until you get used to this routine, or take snacks with you if you know you’re going to be on the go.
Seek out people for accountability
Smith says in-person and virtual support groups are an invaluable way to help keep you accountable as you go through a mindful eating journey. “Nobody better knows what you’re going through than others that are in the same situation,” Smith says. “Others have experienced and practiced strategies that may have been beneficial for them, and they may pass that knowledge on to you.”
The combination of expert and peer support in these groups is also beneficial, she adds. “There’s nothing more important than feeling understood, that somebody else has been in your shoes before. And, believe me, there are a lot of others that are experiencing the exact same things you are.”
How to stick with mindful eating
It can feel overwhelming to try taking on mindful eating practices by yourself. “As I mentioned before, food is everywhere,” Smith says. “Everybody is trying to get us to eat more.” Having a support system cheering you on — a loyal friend or a family member — and supporting what you’re doing can help.
“There are a lot of food pushers out there,” Smith says. “When you take the time to explain to them why you want to make some changes, if you make it very personal, they can often be very supportive.”
That means instead of saying you’re looking to lose weight or alter your appearance, note that mindful eating can also benefit them. “I have found that if you focus on appearance or just weight, you’ll probably not get that much support because they’re going to start comparing themselves to you and saying, ‘Well, you don’t need to lose any weight,’” Smith says. “On the other hand, if you say, ‘Gosh, I really want to have more energy. I’m getting tired early and then I only want to take a nap when I get home from work. I really want to go out with you and have fun,’ you’re providing some benefit for them.”
Suggesting an alternative gift besides food — like weekly flowers from the store instead — can also help.
“People want to show love towards other people through food,” Smith says. “That’s often one of the biggest barriers. A person doesn’t want to say “no,” because that’s almost like rejecting that person’s love toward them. Let them know that if you want to do something special, this is how they can do it.”
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Vujnovic explained the WHO highly recommended that all nations globally making teeming efforts to identify new monkeypox cases and trace contacts to control outbreaks and prevent further spread.
Likewise, the WHO representative stressed there is no need to vaccinate the Russian population massively against smallpox.
“Mass vaccination is not currently recommended, but itś being considered in certain situations to vaccinate those who were in contact or vulnerable people,” she stressed.
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Toronto Public Health continues to host summer pop-up vaccination clinics across the city in partnership with Toronto’s Canada Day festivals and special events. This is part of Team Toronto’s continued efforts to bring COVID-19 vaccination opportunities to places residents live, work and play.
“As people gather to celebrate Canada Day across the city, Team Toronto will be out helping residents get vaccinated against COVID-19 and keep their vaccinations up to date,” said Mayor John Tory. “We have made such progress thanks to our world-leading vaccination efforts, and that’s why we’re continuing to work throughout this holiday and into the summer to help deliver vaccine doses.”
TPH will host the following vaccination clinics in early July:
• High Park Canada Day Festival at High Park, 1873 Bloor St. W., Friday, July 1, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• East York Canada Day Festival at Stan Wadlow Park. 373 Cedarvale Ave., Friday, July 1, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Canada Day event at Mel Lastman Square, 5100 Yonge St. Friday, July 1, 2 to 7 p.m.
• CIMA Mayor’s Cricket Trophy event at Sunnybrook Park, 1132 Leslie St. Saturday, July 2, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Lakeshore Ribfest at 1 Colonel Samuel Smith Park Dr. Saturday July 2 and Sunday, July 3, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• Afrofest at Woodbine Park, 1695 Queen St. E. Saturday, July 9 and Sunday, July 10, 1 to 7:30 p.m.
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These family-friendly and youth-friendly clinics will provide first, second, third, fourth and children’s COVID-19 doses to eligible residents age five and up on a walk-in basis, with no appointment or health card required. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be offered by TPH nurses, who will also answer COVID-19 and vaccine-related questions.
Residents can continue to get vaccinated at city-run immunization clinics, primary care offices and more than 525 pharmacies. A full list of clinic locations and hours is available on the City’s COVID-19: Where to Get Vaccinated webpage.
As of Monday, July 4, the city-run immunization clinic at Metro Hall will operate Monday to Friday noon to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Residents can find a pharmacy offering COVID-19 vaccination by using the Government of Ontario’s COVID-19 pharmacy vaccine locations webpage.
All eligible residents are encouraged to get their third and fourth dose as soon as possible. As with vaccines for other diseases, people are protected best when they stay up to date. COVID-19 vaccines have been scientifically proven to lower the risk of illness, hospitalization and death while protecting oneself, loved ones and the community, and residents with three doses had the lowest rates of hospitalization, ICU and death over any other level of vaccination.
Style File: Smart sunscreens – Montreal Gazette
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Sunscreen is always a good idea.
Skin cancers are the most common forms of cancer in Canada, according to Statistics Canada. And severe sunburns are noted as “an important risk factor for melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers,” according to the agency.
With this in mind, it’s important to slather, smooth, spray — or whatever your chosen format of sun protection may be — this summer.
Here are four smart sunscreen options to consider adding to your daily sun-protection plan:
From the French brand La Roche-Posay, this “ultralight” sunscreen formula features a universal tint to match most skin tones. See you later, face makeup. The Anthelios Mineral Tinted Ultra Fluid boasts a sun protection factor (that’s the SPF) of 50, thanks to 100 per cent mineral filters. Suitable for sensitive skin, the broad-spectrum sunscreen — it blocks both UVA and UVB rays, is sweat resistant and water resistant for up to 40 minutes.
$35.95 | Shoppers Drug Mart, Laroche-posay.ca
This advanced sunscreen formula from Shiseido acts as a moisturizer, sunscreen and face primer all-in-one formula. The Urban Environment Oil-Free Sunscreen has an SPF of 42 and features skin-loving ingredients such as spirulina and hyaluronic acid to hydrate and smooth skin while broad-spectrum UV filters protect against ultraviolet rays.
$45 | Sephora, Shiseido.com
Perfect for those who struggle with acne, this Clear as Day SPF 46 from the brand Starface is vegan and cruelty-free, while also being oil-free and non-comedogenic. The fragrance-free formula features a unique gel texture and is completely clear so there’s no fear of a white cast on skin. Water resistant for up to 80 minutes, so you can spend a little extra time splish-splashing about.
$32 | Starfaceworld.ca
Sun protection doesn’t stop at the face, neck and décolletage. Introduce head-to-toe coverage to your summer routine with the Garnier Ombrelle Sensitive Expert Body Lotion SPF 60. The hypoallergenic sunscreen formula features broad-spectrum coverage, is fragrance-free, dermatologist-tested, non-comedogenic and water resistant for up to 80 minutes. Plus, the lotion formula is easy to apply, and absorbs quickly.
$24.99 | London Drugs, Londondrugs.com
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