Crushing on Mindful Eating
When we fall in love, we want to know everything about that other person—what they think and feel, what makes them happy, are they iOS or Android-based (You know…the important things.) Yet, when it comes to our love affair with food, we don’t walk the talk. Time limits, distractions (of the electronic kind), cravings, binges all get in the way of a healthy relationship with the incredible bounty of tasty, nutritious food at our disposal. Whereas becoming mindful of what, how, where, and why we eat is a straight shot to happily ever after.
You may have heard of the technique of taking an orange (or other food) in your hand, feeling it, smelling it, then slowing peeling it with your hands over the course of maybe 15 to 30 minutes, enjoying the texture of each layer, holding a wedge in your mouth and chewing it slowly before finally swallowing.
Obviously, we cannot eat this way on a regular basis, but slowing down and practicing some type of mindful eating every day opens up the bandwidth to consider where the food came from, the people and processes that brought it into existence, the influence of the natural elements on its taste, aroma, texture, and nutrient value. A reconnection with nature, a feeling of gratitude, and increased satisfaction are just some of the benefits of mindful eating. Here are some tips on how you can incorporate this into any meal of the day.
- Don’t rush into that first bite. Take a moment to breathe, a moment to anticipate.
- Sit up tall but stay relaxed to allow your digestive system to work properly.
- Use all of your senses to enjoy the food, not just taste.
- On that first bite, challenge yourself to identify ingredients like herbs and spices.
- Chew, chew, chew and savor.
- Make a habit of putting your fork/spoon down every few bites.
- Eat slowly so you will know when your body is full.
- Don’t have electronic devices at the table and turn off the TV.
Another aspect of mindful eating is focusing on what your body needs as opposed to what it wants at the moment. Stress, habit, comfort, lack of energy or time can lead to mind-less eating which comes with an amazing list of bad things like weight gain, heart issues, high cholesterol and blood pressure, brain fog, and so on. Popping an antacid (for me it’s a Lactaid pill), is not the solution. While you technically can eat cheese fries and a burger mindfully, the benefits of mindful eating really depend on a clean diet and reasonable proportions of healthy fats and proteins, fiber, veggies, fruits...you know the drill.
Support your mindful eating journey with the following habits:
- When a craving hits, wait a few minutes before indulging to think about whether you are actually hungry or triggered by something else.
- Don’t go food shopping when you’re hungry.
- Getting a good night sleep cannot be stressed enough.
- Build sufficient amounts of exercise and relaxation into your day.
- Connect on a regular basis with your besties, colleagues, family, neighbors, the people who work in your favorite café.
- Have plenty of healthy snacks at the ready.
It might be time to take your relationship with food to the next level by respecting its power to heal and elevate your body, mind, and spirit will each mindful mouthful.