Eating mindfully, what's all the fuss about?
What did you eat last?
How did it taste?
How many times did you chew each mouthful?
What was the texture?
What do you remember most about the last bite?
Do you even remember what it was?
What are your mealtimes like?
- on the go,
- family members sitting in different areas of the home,
- several different types of meals served because everyone likes something different,
- food being wasted
- television on
- distractions from the pings, dings, and vibrations of devices and
- food eaten so fast it barely touched the plate before everyone is off doing their own thing?
I will always remember the words spoken at my very first mealtime at the Buddhist retreat I attended. I was in noble silence, so the words were the only ones to think about during the entire mealtime.
“After walking into the eating area, take a plate and walk over to the food. Take only enough that you know you can eat. We do not waste food. Our food is generously donated to us. Then sit down and eat mindfully”.
The silence after gave me plenty of time to truly think, through those words. We were taught to truly think about the food and appreciate each part of its creation - right back as far as the people who planted it, those who tended the fields, those who harvested and then right through to those who sold it or processed it. Then think about how much we put on our plates (we were not allowed to waste any), each mouthful, the tastes, the textures, and see if we could determine individual flavours. It truly was an awakening to the fact that the majority of the time we eat so quickly and with so many distractions that we truly don’t appreciate this vital fuel for our bodies.
Mindful eating is an important element of self-care. Sometimes, though people just think it’s a ‘woo-woo’ buzzword, but there are important reasons to do it for everyone! For example, here is an excerpt from my book:
“The process of physically chewing your food not only helps break down the food into smaller pieces, it also helps reduce stress on your oesophagus, releases digestive enzymes to help with your digestion, reduces the risk of bacterial overgrowth in the colon, and sends messages to your gastrointestinal system.”
So if we are busily eating standing up, on the run, or even skipping meals no wonder many of us are experiencing issues with digestion, gut health and bowel movements.
There is so much information and guidance around mindful eating available, but I always help people understand it from the most basic level and steps are a great place to start - so here are 6 steps to ensure you are mindfully eating - and a challenge at the end….
1. It all starts with your shopping list - Prepare it prior to shopping. Consider the health value of every single item on there.
2. Eat to fuel your body - Do some research into grazing vs 3 meals a day. See which is better for your body. Remember food is fuel for your body, and letting it run dry by skipping meals can ultimately lead to poor choices at the next meal.
3. Turn off the technology - Rest your mind, and let your body fully digest and enjoy the food.
4. Food Appreciation - Pausing before eating is a great start to mindful eating. Take a minute to look at everything in front of you and be grateful for both the food and those who created and cooked it - and those who are sitting with you at that moment in time. Take time enjoying flavours, and textures - and chewing thoroughly!
5. Bring your senses to the table - Try to use every sense. Enjoy the aromas, the sounds, the textures, the look and the feelings the food gives you as you enjoy it.
6. Increase water intake - Hydration is incredibly important to keep every system in your body functioning properly and to assist the digestive process.
When you start focusing on mindful eating, don’t go all out and force yourself to bring it to every meal. For some, starting with focusing on mindful eating in one meal per day will be enough to really get a grasp on it and feel the benefits. Then move it to two, then three if you wish.
Now to that challenge - I encourage you to eat your next meal mindfully. Do this by:
- Taking the time to stop.
- Be seated
- Drink water with it.
- Turn off distractions
- Focus on the food
- Enjoy and appreciate every mouthful.
I would love to hear about your experience. Come into our Facebook community and tell us about it!
If you would like even more information head to page 130 in my bestselling book, Start Living - from frazzled to Fabulous. It has more information and research, and more detailed explanations about the 6 steps I gave you. Plenty of information about Mindful eating for you to enjoy - and digest!
Enjoy your next meal