Everyday we eat, but in our culture eating is often ‘mindless’, which simply put means we eat food without actually focusing on what we are eating. Think about it for a minute… How many times have you just stuffed some lunch into your mouth while at work because you feel too busy? How many times have you just quickly eaten something whilst doing some other task? I’m sure that you can think of at least a few times when this has happened. We also may find that we sometimes eat whilst watching T.V which means that more of our attention is on what we are watching than what we are actually eating. And perhaps you have had those moments where you ‘comfort eat’, simply because the food is there and it is making you feel better instead of eating due to general hunger feelings. These are just a few examples of times that we don’t bring our attention to the food that we are eating. When we eat in this ‘mindless’ way it can result in; poor nourishment, weight gain, an unhealthy relationship with food (seeing food as just comfort or fuel rather than nourishment) and digestive problems. But there is a way to improve our eating habits and that’s where Mindful Eating comes along.
What Is Mindful Eating? Mindful eating involves bringing your attention and focus to what you are eating and increasing your awareness to the food. This includes asking yourself what you want to eat and if you are properly hungry, focusing fully on the food and engaging your senses and making sure that you taste and appreciate every single mouthful that you eat. Mindful eating can bring you benefits for your weight, stress levels, digestion and overall health.
How To Eat Mindfully… A Few Simple Suggestions To Try Out
- When you notice that you feel hungry ask yourself whether you really are hungry or if you are just craving comfort or pleasure. Does your body really need that bag of crisps/piece of chocolate/bowl of nuts/piece of fruit? If you find that you aren’t fully hungry and you maybe wanting to eat due to boredom, comfort or pleasure then have a think if there is another way this need could be satisfied? It’s also good to remember that even healthy food choices eaten in a mindless way can be a poor choice. If you are feeling stressed though this is not a good time to eat, instead get away from the stressful situation and take at least 10 minutes (or longer if you can) to calm down before eating.
- When preparing/cooking the food and when you have sat down ready to eat take a minute or two to be grateful for the food infront of you, notice the variety of colour on your plate, the different shapes and textures of each piece of food and the delicious aromas aswell. Noticing the foods aroma even helps to activate the body’s digestive process and releases saliva and digestive enzymes to help break down the food when you eat it.
- Get rid of any distractions whilst eating… don’t turn on the T.V, put your phone to the side, don’t have a browse through the newspaper etc… basically get rid of anything that will distract your attention from the food that you are eating. You might be thinking what about eating in the company of others? Eating with family and friends is good and is a valuable way to spend some time together but try to avoid any heated or stressful discussions as those sorts of conversations will take your focus away from the food.
- When you start eating the food bring your attention to just the food in your mouth. Chew every mouthful slowly and notice each flavour, aroma and texture. Whilst you are eating your food pay attention to any signals that your body sends you about how full you feel. If you are already feeling full and satisfied do you really need to eat the rest of that pasta or bit of veg etc…? Acknowledge what your body is trying to tell you when feeling full.
- After your meal take a look at your plate and notice how empty it has now become because you have just enjoyed and finished your delicious meal. If you would like to why not finish off the meal with a grateful thought of thanks for what you have just eaten and enjoyed.
I would be intrigued to know if you have personally tried out Mindful Eating before and what your thoughts/feelings were towards the experience. Feel free to leave all of your comments down below as I love to hear from you all!