Mindful Eating: An Introduction
Written by: INDEAL Cares Guest Blogger: Rosie Coelho, Rosie’s Kitchen Co.
We often hear about mindfulness and its benefit as a tool for living well. So, what is mindfulness? It can be defined as the state of being conscious or aware of something. Ideally, being more mindful decreases stress by being present in the moment.
Mindful Eating is the process of allowing ourselves to become fully immersed in the experience of nourishing our bodies and consuming nutrients – being aware of what we are eating and how we are eating it. This may sound like one more item to add to our ever-exhausting to do list; however, mindful eating is an easy daily practice that doesn’t take more time - but rather a gentle shift in focus away from the daily grind and more towards what we are putting into our bodies. It may seem a little awkward at first, but that’s just because it’s unfamiliar. The more you practice, the more it will become a habit, the less you’ll have to think and the more you will experience it without much effort at all.
There are many ways to practice Mindful Eating - there is no one right way. In fact, it’s a way to increasing the overall pleasure of eating, connecting to our bodies, exercising self-care, engaging our senses, and practicing gratitude. All this though eating? Yes!
INCREASE YOUR ENJOYMENT
The experience of eating starts with the initial choices you make. Are you ordering in? Where from? Your favorite local? Trying a new place? Are you cooking? Exploring a new recipe? Making a favorite? Cooking alone? Cooking with others? What are you in the mood for? If you have kids, get them involved in the choices or helping in the kitchen too. Turn mealtime into an enjoyable time, for everyone.
CONNECT TO YOUR BODY
Tune in to your body. Increase awareness. Listen. How hungry are you? What are you in the mood for? How are you feeling? Joyful? Stressed? Preoccupied? Rushed? Lethargic? Our mood effects how our bodies take in nutrients. In simple terms, without getting into the detailed science of how it works, if our bodies are not in a restful, calm state, nutrients are unable to be absorbed at their full capacity.
Many of us scarf down our food, allow little time for meals, are not fully present in the moment. Let’s look at ways to change that.
SLOW IT DOWN
Meals are not a chore, and eating should not be a rushed experience. Take it slow. Slower still. While setting the table, or pulling out the takeout containers, take a few deep breaths. When getting everything ready for what you’re about to eat, take slow deep breaths. Be in the moment. Allow yourself to get lost in the task at hand. Rushing creates an excited state which gets translated into stress. Take another breath. Get your mind and body ready for the deliciousness to come.
ENGAGE THE SENSES
Most of the time, we just start eating. Before digging in, take a look at the food. It is said that we eat with our eyes first. How is the food arranged on the plate? Admire the colours. Now inhale deeply. Take in the aroma of the food in front of you. What does it smell like? Take a bite and before swallowing, let the food sit in your mouth. Explore the taste. Salty? Sweet? Sour? Bitter? What flavours are you experiencing? And finally, what is the texture in your mouth? Chew. Now what is the texture? What else are you discovering in the process?
Let us be thankful for the food in front of us. Thank the cook, the creator of the meal, the famers, the food producers. Be thankful for it all. Whether you formalize it by saying grace or just take a moment to yourself, have the attitude of gratitude.
Feel free to try one of the practices or a few at a time. Mindful eating is a process and a way of being. Maybe start with just practicing with one meal per day and gradually increase to all three meals, and include snacks. Remember this is a practice. Be gentle with yourself.