26 Oct How to Practice Mindful Eating
Mindfulness seems to have been a recurring theme in the health and wellness industry lately. Mindful eating goes a step further, beyond just being present, to a focus on what we eat, when we eat, and how we eat.
Talking about mindful living has almost become like a new kind of fashion trend. But what does it actually mean?
In our fast paced world, many people spend a good portion of their time either worrying about future events, or fretting over the past.
Mindful living is about letting go of the past and future, and instead focusing on the present moment. It’s about slowing down, and paying close attention to what you’re doing right now, whether it’s working, walking, talking, or even eating.
Mindful Vs Mindless Eating
We all know that the quality of the food we eat can have a big impact on our overall health, but rarely do we consider the impact of how we eat our food (even though it may be just as important).
The average westerner will rush to work in the morning, maybe eating breakfast on the run, often not. They then spend the day trying to scoff down snacks in between meetings, or whenever they can grab a few spare minutes. After a long hard day at work, they collapse in front of the TV and pick up the takeaway menu.
Rinse and repeat.
Because of our busy work lives, many of us have become completely disconnected from the food we put into our bodies. We opt for speed and convenience over quality. We eat mindlessly, our fast food a mirror image of our fast paced minds.
We rarely consider where our food has come from, how it tastes, how it actually makes us feel, or what it is doing for our health.
I’m posing to you a challenge.
Once a week, rather than reaching for the takeaway menu or heating up a ready meal, set some time aside to prepare your own healthy meal, for you and your family. You may want to pick a weekend, when you have a little more spare time.
If you’re looking for ideas, here are a few simple, healthy recipes to get you started. Pick something you like the look of and follow the recipe carefully, always doing your best to remain present and focussed on the task at hand.
When preparing your ingredients, focus intently on each chop of the knife. Pay attention to how each ingredient smells when it’s raw, and how it changes when it’s cooking. Enjoy the process, as opposed to wishing it way.
When the time comes to eat, rather than slouching in front of the TV, sit at the dinner table. Eliminate any distractions – no phones, no music, no laptops or books. Just you, your meal, and the company of your loved ones.
Before you eat, you may want to say a short prayer or thanks. There are many people out there who do not have access to clean water, let alone healthy food. Gratitude is always a good state to be in.
When you begin to eat, rather than wolfing your food down as quickly as possible, chew slowly, several times. This will likely unlock new flavours that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. Savour the tastes and smells, and look out for different textures.
If you’re sat with loved ones, make the conversation centred on the food you’re eating, rather than what happened at school or work. Always try your best to remain present, and enjoy the experience.
The Benefits of Mindful Eating
Being mindful of your food can really help with any digestive issues such as bloating or constipation. Digestion starts in the mouth when enzymes in your saliva act on the food, but when you eat in a rush, this process is bypassed and the rest of your digestive system has to work harder.
Mindful eating can also reduce the likelihood of you overeating. When you rush your food or eat with distractions, you’re much more inclined to eat more than you need.
You may also find that eating mindfully will help you make healthier choices more often. When you pay attention to what you’re really putting into your body, you tend to favour things that will nourish you, as opposed to doing you harm.
Over to you
Like any other habit change, eating mindfully is not something to be rushed into. Start small, with just one meal a week, and build up to two when you feel comfortable.
Before you know it, you may have a completely different relationship with your food, and a healthier body and mind to go with it.
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