Mindful Eating

It’s about 11:30 AM and I am sitting in front of the computer, getting a lot accomplished on a project that I am working on, when I am stirred from my computer induced trance by the grumbling of my stomach. Oh shoot, I am hungry. If I don’t eat soon I will get tired and cranky and won’t be able to finish. I rush downstairs and prepare a beautiful salad with chicken, beats, feta cheese and tons of veggies, my favorite lately. I rush back upstairs and continue working as I pile the food in.  Before I know it, the plate is clean and while my stomach is satisfied I didn’t even taste the wonderful salad I had just prepared. This is what I call Mindless Eating. We all do it; eating our breakfast on the way to work, eating dinner in front of the TV, eating because we are bored or upset and not even hungry. How many of you can relate to this?

So if that is Mindless Eating what is Mindful Eating?

When you think of healthy eating what do you think of; watching calories, eating organic food, gluten free, whole grain, good fats, no sugar, or eating the latest superfood?  Most discussions of healthy eating are all about WHAT we eat. Much less attention is given to HOW we eat it.

This past year, in my nutrition studies, the interesting concept of Mindful Eating has crept into my field of view.  The concept suggests that changing our attitudes and practices around meals and mealtime rituals may be every bit as important as obsessing over what it is we actually put in our mouths.

Mindful eating can be found in many spiritual teachings.  It aims to reconnect us more deeply with the experience of eating and enjoying our food. Mindful eating is about paying full attention to the eating experience and noticing what is happening both inside and outside the body. Outside the body we pay attention to the colors, smells, textures, flavors, temperatures, and even the sounds of our food.   Inside the body we pay attention to where we feel hunger, do we feel satisfaction, are we full?  One of the goals of mindful eating is to reconnect with our bodies’ hunger signals, not emotional ones — like eating for comfort or when we are stressed. This is especially important during the busy holiday season.

Mindful eating doesn’t have to be complicated. Try these simple steps to learn to add mindful eating to your mealtimes.

First, always give Thanks

Taking a moment to say a blessing and give thanks to all you have in life is like taking a nice deep refreshing breadth in.  It gives you a moment, a pause to let your body know you are about to nourish it and get it ready to use the food as it needs to. It may even give you a moment to notice how hungry you are (or aren’t) and to really appreciate what you have.  Try this for at least one meal a day during the busy holiday season and see if you notice a difference.

Savor your food

Taking the time to savor and enjoy your food is one of the healthiest things you can do. You are more likely to notice when you are full, you’ll chew your food more thoroughly and hence digest it more easily.  You’ll probably find yourself noticing flavors you might otherwise have missed. This may not be easy so here are a couple of tricks that may help: set your kitchen timer to 20 minutes and use up that whole time to eat your meal, try eating with your non-dominant hand, or try using chopsticks if you don’t normally use them.

Turn off the distractions

Our daily lives are full of distractions. I know in our household we typically eat in front of the TV or I’m on my iPad or phone.  Consider making family mealtime or at least one meal a week, an electronics-free zone.

Notice the details of your food.

The tanginess of a lemon, the spiciness of arugula, the crunch of a pizza crust…paying attention to the details of our food can be a great way to start eating mindfully.  After all, when you eat on the go or wolf down your meals in five minutes, it can be hard to notice what you are even eating, let alone truly savor all the different sensations of eating it.

Know your food (I loved this concept most of all)

Mindfulness is really about rekindling a relationship with our food. Planting a veggie garden, baking our own bread, visiting a farmers market, are not just ways to cut our carbon footprint, but also ways to connect with the story behind our food. Even when you have no idea where the food you are eating has come from, try asking yourself some questions about the possibilities: Who grew this? How? Where did it come from? How did it get here? Chances are, you’ll not only gain a deeper appreciation for your food, but you’ll find your shopping habits changing in the process too.

Mindful eating does not have to be a chore, but rather a simple commitment to appreciating, respecting and, above all, enjoying the food you eat every day.  By practicing mindful eating and focusing on HOW you eat, not WHAT you eat, you may even find that WHAT you eat shifts dramatically for the better along the way.

If you’d like some help with your health or fitness journey why not schedule a FREE 30 Minute Wellness Consultation with me. I’d love to help in any way that I can. Click the book now link below and find a time that works for you


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