Mindful Eating: What it is and how to do it
As the word mindful suggests, mindful eating is to be consciously aware of the signs, signals, and senses which accompany eating. The world is full of distractions and most of us live busy lives, eating to fill our stomach so we can get on with the day. When was the last time you sat down and truly focused on the food in front of you? Have you ever?
Mindful eating is learning to pay attention and focus on the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that accompany the act of eating. Considered a form of meditation, tuning out distractions and tuning in during mealtime has ample benefit for the mind and body.
For one, you will learn your body’s signals: eating when hungry and stopping when full, negating the harmful effects associated with restrictive eating or overeating. Additionally, you will learn to distinguish emotional triggers for eating and separate those triggers from the feeling of true hunger. You will learn to truly taste food, enjoying the taste of delicious wholesome foods and develop an appreciation as well as a relationship with food. You will learn how food directly affects your mood and energy levels in your day-to-day. In addition to training your brain, you will be supporting the body’s digestive symptom, prepping it for the digestion and assimilation of crucial nutrients. The benefits to mindful eating truly are endless.
So how does one eat mindfully? This may be difficult (or not!) at first, but here is a simple guide to assist in the cultivation of mindful eating.
Step 1: Remove distractions. Turn the electronics off and set them to the side. Make time for your meal and refrain from multi-tasking.
Next, get mindful!
Step 2: Check-in with the body. What is your mood before eating? How about your energy levels? Take notice and reassess how you feel after your meal.
Step 3: Check-in with the mind. Is the mind thinking of something else? The day’s events? What you will be doing after your finished with your meal? If something is preoccupying your thoughts, simply notice and bring your attention back to the food in front of you. What does the food look like? What does it smell like? Breathe it in. What does it taste like? Does it make your mouth water? When you chew, notice the textures and blend of flavors. Bring your focus back to eating, note the sensations accompanied with eating and most importantly, enjoy your meal.
Step 4: Check-in with any feelings and thoughts you may have. Does the meal bring about emotions? Boredom, pleasure, guilt, joy, regret? Does the food your eating conjure up memories, fears, beliefs, misconceptions? Explore the relationship you have with food and the emotions and thoughts provoked from the food on your plate.
Now how about some delicious food?