Mindfulness. It seems that this is a concept that is sweeping through our society in this modern age. People are embracing yoga and meditation and reaping the benefits of these activities. Let’s discuss how mindful eating can help you avoid over eating, improve your relationship with food and in turn assist you in losing and maintaining your weight at a healthy level. To download a free checkist for Mindful Eating to assist you on your Mindful Eating journey, click here.
Have you ever arrived home after your commute and realized you were on autopilot. You don’t actually remember the journey home? Or 5pm arrives and the day has passed you by without you once taking a moment to pause and notice the world around you?
This mindlessness carries through into our eating habits. We eat mindlessly whilst walking somewhere, driving to work or while busy chatting with a loved one or friend over dinner. We are so busy with life that we don’t even taste our food.
Mindlessness can lead to overeating, malnutrition and unwanted fluctuations in weight.
Relationship with Food
Many of us have a poor relationship with food. We eat to self soothe after a difficult day. Who hasn’t had a tub of ice cream whilst watching Netflix?
So much of society is constantly dieting for their next holiday or to lose 10lbs. This can lead to stress whilst eating. We feel guilty for consuming certain foods that are ‘bad’.
Our problem is our relationship with food. It is important to realize and accept that everything we eat nourishes and helps maintain our health and overall wellbeing. Mindful eating can help build a positive relationship with food.
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment experience. We then apply this to eating. By eating mindfully, we free ourselves from unhealthy relationships with food.
In a mindful state, we are attentive to our actions and fully engaged in one activity. Similar to focusing on the breath during a meditation, we change that focus to the task of eating.
When mindful, our senses are open and heightened allowing us to pay attention to the texture of food and the multiple colors on our plate. We notice the sound of our food whilst chewing, the bursts of flavors in our mouth and are able to enjoy eating more.
Mindful Eating gives us the opportunity to understand emotions that arise in regards to our meals. We are more capable of recognizing when we are full and can avoid over or under eating.
The Practice of Mindful Eating
Like anything else in life, practice makes perfect. At this time I want you to actually eat something and use this guide to eat mindfully. Begin your practice with something small and simple, such as a berry, piece of apple or a nut. As your practice improves, you can use this same guide on your entire meal.
Begin by closing your eyes and noticing your level of hunger. Do you feel famished, satisfied or neutral? Notice where you feel hunger in the body. Become aware of any physical sensations associated with your hunger. Is your mouth watering or your stomach rumbling? Observe and then rate how hungry you are from 1-10.
Open your eyes and take your gaze to your food on a plate in front of you. Observe it with childlike fascination, as if seeing it for the first time. With curiosity, notice the shape and color of the food.
Lift the food and hold it between your fingers, feel the texture and become aware of how it feels. Is it soft, smooth or firm? Try placing the food in your palm to feel it’s weight. Be curious.
Bring the food to your nose and smell it, what aroma does the food have? Is it sweet, earthy or maybe there is no scent.
Begin to notice what is happening in the body. Is the mouth watering? Maybe it is becoming difficult to resist.
Resist no longer, bring the food to the lips. Notice that our mouthes open in anticipation to greet the food. Place the food in your mouth or take a small bite. Avoid chewing yet. Instead, Rest the food on your tongue and roll it around without chewing. Explore what the feed feels like.
Begin to chew the food slowly and mindfully. Savor each of the flavors. Avoid swallowing the food immediately, instead notice the taste and texture of the food. What flavors can you taste? How would you describe the flavor? Maybe it is crunchy or smooth. Do you make any sounds as you bite?
Now swallow the food and observes what happens, the movement of the tongue, throat, belly. Is there an aftertaste in your mouth?
Rate again from 1-10 how hungry you are. It is important we pay attention to our levels of hunger of satiety to develop awareness of how much food our body actually needs.
If you are still hungry, continue to eat, one bite at a time. Avoid rushing your mindful eating practice. It might be a good idea to put your utensils down between bites.
Before each meal, take a moment to envoke gratitude and appreciate the food you’re eating. How it has come to be on your plate.
Think about where it was grown, the sun and soil required for that growth. Consider the workers involved with transporting the food to you. Our food comes from all over the world. By plane, boat, train and more.
The earth quite literally grows the nutrients we need to survive and maintain health. That is miraculous and remarkable.
Respect Your Body
I encourage you to bring this practice into your daily life. Mindful eating like other mindful activities keeps us present. Remember to pause and appreciate your food. Respect your body by eating slowly and gratefully. Allow food to fuel the body, nourish us and to heal us from the inside out.
Practice mindful non judgement towards yourself whilst eating. Respond to any negative feelings that arise with self love rather than self criticism.
Always eat slowly and fully taste each bite. Enjoy the experience of eating and watch your relationship with food change.
Thank you for joining us at Healthy Mind, Healthy Body, Healthy Life today. How do you practice mindful eating? How has it helped your relationship with food? Do you have any recommendations you would like to share with our readers? Please comment below.
Call To Action
For a free download of your very own Mindful Eating Checklist, click here.
Love and Light