What ever happened to enjoying food and indulging in the simple pleasures of tastes? Our lives seem to be becoming busier and busier with no intentions of slowing down. We rush to work, we rush to get home and we rush to take care of our families and we neglect ourselves in the process. When do we have time to sit down and enjoy a meal with our family? Fast food and processed meals seems to be a quick and easy solution for many as it saves time, but is our health paying the price for modern day conveniences?
The term ‘mindfulness’ is gaining in popularity as people are wanting to take back their health and learn to live in the moment and ditch the ‘stressed out’ life. So, what is mindfulness? It’s a form of meditation that helps you recognize your emotions and connect with your physical self. When you bring mindfulness into your eating, you are more aware of your food and you are more likely to take pleasure in its flavour, texture, and nutrients. Let’s learn how to engage in a mindful connection with your food.
What is Mindful Eating?
There are many different approaches to mindful eating. It’s learning to pay attention of what you’re putting into your mouth. Instead of wolfing down a quick meal, slow down and try to savour every ingredient and you’ll notice your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. You will notice things like:
- The texture as the food dissolves in your mouth. Mindful eating leads us to pause and appreciate real food, to live in the moment, and to practice and engage awareness that benefits our lives in so many ways,
- It allows you to think about why you are eating and what emotions might be triggered by eating,
- The type of foods you are eating and if it’s healthy or not,
- Your emotions and how you feel before, during, and after the meal,
- Where did your food come from and how was it grown,
- The look, smell, taste, and feel of the foods you’re eating,
- Having full attention to your cravings and experiences when eating.
Why Should You Try It?
Distractions of every day life has shifted our attention away from the actual food and act of eating onto modern day technology. Food is taken in quickly, on the run, and many people overeat as they are not even paying attention to the food they are consuming. It’s simply a way of keeping our bellies full so we can get on to the next task.
In our fast-paced society, we face an abundance of food choices every day. On top of that, distractions have shifted our attention away from the actual act of eating, and onto televisions, computers and smartphones. By eating mindfully, you restore your attention and slow down, making eating an intentional act instead of an automatic one. You become aware of cues that tell you when you’re full and you realize the difference between emotional eating and what we call physical hunger. Mindfulness eating will allow you to increase your awareness of triggers that make you want to eat, the types of foods you want to eat, and the amounts of food. By discovering your emotional triggers, you can stop them and correct them.
Guidelines to Bring Your Body & Mind Back Together
- Pay Attention to Your Plate
Are you one of those people who is attached to your cell phone? Ask yourself, will the world end if you don’t respond to that text or phone call immediately? When we are distracted by our phones, modern day conveniences like TV’s, computers, books, etc., it doesn’t allow us to listen to our body’s signals for food. Signals like your stomach is full, or the taste or smell of the food. Try at least once a week to sit down to a meal with no distractions (no technology or books). Enjoy the company of the people you are with and share a conversation with them. Allow yourself time to enjoy the food instead of thinking of what you have to do next. Remember, mindfulness is about being in the moment.
- Eat Food, Not Stories
We have convinced ourselves that healthy food doesn’t taste good. Instead of eating foods that are nutritionally healthy for us, we are consuming foods that are emotionally comforting. I like to use trail mix as an example. Create your own trail mix using a variety of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, coconut, or whatever ingredients you like. With each bite, you get a very different taste. Some bites might be more sweet, while others a little crunchy, or a little of both. The purpose is to slow down and think about the tastes and textures in your mouth. When we slow down, we tell ourselves how great the food really tastes. As you start to incorporate more of a variety of healthy foods, you are less inclined to binge on your favourite comfort foods.
- Become Your Own Chef
Even if you’re not a fan of being in the kitchen, you have a greater appreciation for food if you are creating it yourself from scratch. Our taste buds are all unique and our meals should be as unique as you are. Take the time to find out where your food comes from (local or shipped, organic vs. un-organic). You value the time and effort it takes to put a creative meal together that not only tastes great but is healthy for your body. As you prepare your food, take the time to feel the texture of the food, smell the food, and taste it raw before you create your own masterpiece.
- Pay Attention
Eating mindfully doesn’t happen overnight. Allow the changes to come slowly. Pay attention to the colours of food, the tastes, your feelings, and your emotions. Attention becomes the key habit and then it triggers more positive changes.
Eat Well – Move Well – Live Well!
Your Compassionate Coach,