Most of us are mindful about where we grocery shop, what we buy and what foods we put into our bodies, but are infusing mindfulness into your eating process? I know I’m not, but I can’t help but notice a difference when I slow down and eat more mindfully.
More often times than not, many of us eat lunch hunched over at our desks scarfing down a salad in between conference calls. Unfortunately, dinner isn’t much different as we inhale our evening meal after a long work day followed by an evening sweat sesh. Many times we eat on autopilot, practically unaware we are even eating at all. Eating has an effect on how we feel, so it’s important to tune in to our meals while we eat. By eating mindfully, you can better tune in to your body’s needs and be more present.
Here’s how you can incorporate mindfulness into eating.
Consider the source of your food
As you prepare your meal, take a few moments to really think about the food you are preparing. Consider where the food came from, and all of the farmers and their families who worked hard to grow and produce the food as well as everyone who had a meal in getting this food to you. Be truly grateful for each and every person and role they played in getting this food to you.
Single-task eating your meal
Once your food is ready to eat, turn off all devices or put them away. Focus singularly on eating and nothing else. That means no TV, no computer, no cell phone, no social media. Simply sit and really be with your food.
Use your five senses to consider your food
Before you begin eating, sit silently and look at your food. Look at the colors on your plate, take in the textures, smell the scents and truly get excited to eat your food. Then when you’re ready, take three deep breaths, which will help activate your parasympathetic nervous system also known as the rest and digest state of being. This mindful moment will signal to your body to relax and really enjoy the present moment and subsequently the upcoming meal.
As you take a bite of your food, chew each bite thoughtfully and carefully. Chew your food at least 10 times more than you normally would and when you feel the urge to swallow, chew 10 more times. Chewing your food not only helps your digestive system do less work later on in the digestive process, but it also helps your body absorb more nutrients.
While enjoying your meal, put your fork down in between bites and really focus on the smell, taste and sensation of eating as you thoroughly chew your food. Eat slowly, silently and mindfully. Notice halfway through your meal how you are feeling and ask yourself a few questions: Are you starting to feel full or are you still hungry? Are you still enjoying the taste of your food or is it getting a little bland? Ask yourself questions that seem relevant and try not to get distracted by other things. If you find yourself starting to feel full, put your food away, but if you find you are still hungry, keep eating. By consciously checking in with yourself, you will better be able to measure your body’s needs and avoid overeating.
Like trying anything new in life, mindful eating takes practice. Ease into it! Choose one meal a day to incorporate these mindful eating tips and really try to complete each one. You will be amazed how differently you (and your stomach) feel after enjoying a mindful meal. You may even find yourself eating less!
Incorporating mindfulness into eating takes, well, mindfulness, but with these tips, you can bring the practice of mindfulness to one (or all) of your meals.