Did you ever experience eating something and only moments after realizing it? Perhaps you weren’t even hungry; you only reached out to the cookie jar just because it was right next to you...
So often we talk about what we eat but not about how we eat.
Mindful eating roots back to Buddhist Teachings. This is the practice of connecting us to the experience of eating. Rather than stuffing food to our mouths, when we are working on the computer, watching TV or when we’re on the run, it’s about slowing down and giving food our full, undivided attention. When you’re slowing down you can fully experience all the elements of food and that’s where the true pleasure of eating lies.
Mindful eating is almost the antidote to dieting. While dieting is about restricting calories and demonizing food groups, mindful eating is about establishing a true connection with your body, seeing food as nourishment each and every cell in our body.
These tips are not all ‘formal mindful eating practices’ but rather tools for how to eat more mindfully.
Take the time to explore each of the followings during your next meals and notice the difference.
Be present. Shut off distractions; go back to the old good family mealtime, electronics-free zone. That doesn’t mean you should never have a dinner + movie night, but it should be a conscious decision and not a default setting.
Take few deep breaths. Before picking up your fork, take several deep breaths. This sets up the intention for the meal and reminds you to slow down. It also helps your parasympathetic nervous system to kick in so you can properly digest your food. The elevated oxygen levels help your body metabolize your meal.
Eat with all your senses. Pay attention to the sounds, the different textures in your mouth, the smells and the subtle flavors. Look at your food as if you saw this food for the first time in your life.
Chew your food. Chew each bite at least 30 times to aid digestion. Have a ‘break’ from time to time during the meal. Really, truly taste your food. Connect with each and every flavor on your palette.
Tune in to your hunger signals. Recognize when your stomach is satisfied. Your taste buds and brain might send you different signals.
Eat your food. Rather then eating out of boredom, loneliness, sadness, frustration or stress it’s important to actually listen to the body and eat when we are actually hungry (not too hungry ;)).
Try experimenting with the different tips above and have fun with it, don’t just make it another item on your to-do list. See it as a simple commitment to appreciating, respecting and mostly, truly enjoying your food.