Mindful Eating Do you ever feel like you’ve finished eating your meal before you’ve even tasted it? Can you remember the last time you enjoyed your meal without interruptions, or do you find yourself eating with the television on, whilst on the go, in the car, or walking to your next appointment? Have you ever […]
Do you ever feel like you’ve finished eating your meal before you’ve even tasted it? Can you remember the last time you enjoyed your meal without interruptions, or do you find yourself eating with the television on, whilst on the go, in the car, or walking to your next appointment? Have you ever eaten a chocolate bar without it touching the sides? I love chocolate and since practicing eating mindfully, I can tell you that I taste and savour every square of that chocolate! Everything is moving so fast. We are often hurrying along, rushing through meals, or driving through the drive-through! Being able to eat mindfully is not about being perfect at it. I know that if I’m on my own, sometimes I might sit in front of the telly with a tray on my knee, and at other times, I want to savour the meal I’ve cooked or had cooked for me. Mindful eating will add to any other mindfulness practice. If you are reading this and you have never practiced mindfulness, have a look at my other mindfulness blogs.
What is mindful eating?
- It’s about paying attention to your food;
- Having awareness of your food and how you feel about it;
- Noticing your senses whilst you are eating;
- Experiencing the flavours, colours, textures and aromas of the food with appreciation;
- Thinking about how your food is sourced and produced;
- Slowing down the pace of your eating.
Mindful eating can be a way of becoming more aware in other parts of your life. Think about why you eat. Are you actually hungry when you eat, or are you full? Do you eat when you are stressed, sad or angry? Did you come from a large family where you had to ‘wolf’ down your food so that your sibling didn’t steal it from your plate? Have you had a trauma history where you didn’t know when the next meal was going to come along?
When you practice eating mindfully, you can learn how to recognise when you are actually physically hungry, and distinguish this between emotional hungers. You can learn to really taste and savour the food.
How can mindful eating help you and your family?
People are recognising the benefits of mindfulness for reducing both physical and mental health problems, and research is showing that mindfulness can support people with many of these problems and benefits such as:
- Decrease symptoms of stress and anxiety;
- Recognising physical hunger rather than ‘mental hunger’;
- Reduction in digestive problems;
- Slowing down the pace of a busy life.
In my previous blog on Mindfulness for Children
I shared a mindful eating exercise that can be done with children. This is a really simple exercise that you can do yourself whilst eating. Here are some more suggestions that can help you get started with mindfully eating:
- Start slowly so that you don’t set yourself up to fail. Remember that you may be trying to change eating habits that you have had for many years, so be kind to yourself;
- Start off with something small like the chocolate treat, a small piece of fruit, or snack;
- Eat without any distractions. Turn off your phone, stop reading the newspaper, Ipad or watching the TV. Just eat without multitasking;
- Imagine you have never seen this food before. Think about a time when you went somewhere and were introduced to a new food. Think about or watch a baby eating a piece of food;
- Notice the whole experience and pay attention the food;
- Notice the muscles you are using to cut up the food;
- Notice the cutlery in your hand as you lift the food to your mouth;
- Notice what the food looks like – the texture, size, colour, shape;
- Inhale the aromas of the food before you put it into our mouth;
- Notice where you place the food in your mouth – is it on one side of your mouth? Do you have a preference to one side of your mouth when chewing the food? Notice your tongue as a muscle and how it can move the food around in your mouth;
- Bite the food and chew it slowly;
- Notice the muscles that allow you to swallow the food, and notice as the food moves down your throat and into your digestive tract;
- Whilst the food is in your mouth, pause and put your cutlery down on the plate – I remember the old saying “If it’s in your mouth, it’s not on your fork”;
- Allow yourself to really taste the food;
- Think about how the food was produced, grown, sourced;
- Notice your physical experience in the moment;
- Were you physically hungry? Are you still hungry now?
- Ask yourself, “Do I need to finish what is on my plate, or is this a statement that I have heard from family members?”
I know that once I got the hang of eating mindfully, I noticed that I was actually tasting the food, and enjoying it more. I have also noticed that the default from parents “finish what’s on your plate or I’ll give it to the starving children in Biafra” has changed and I don’t automatically finish everything on my plate anymore. This is a good thing.
I’m happy to talk to you further about introducing mindfulness into your life. If you would like to know more, check out my other blogs and my website, or call 0403 848 398.