Mindfulness is everywhere at the moment especially 'mindful eating' but what is it? Can any one do it? and what is the point?
Mindfulness is all about noticing what is going on for you in the here and now. It is acknowledging the current moment including your body, thoughts, feelings, enviroment sounds, smells and noises around you. Mindful eating is to become more aware of what you are eating and why you are eating it. Again the sensations, smells, tastes and textures.
How often do you consume food withut really paying any attention to what you are eating or how it tastes? I do!! I'm trying to notice more and its amazing how much difference it has made to my waist line! For the first time I am asking myself Am I hungry? or just bored? If the second is the case then I will notice the feeling and think about what thats about and why I am trying to fix an emotion with food. From a very young age have eaten really fast! (my family included) living with someone who eats slower has helped but also just being mindful and slowing down. Not only do I enjoy my food more which for me is a must but I am also feeling fuller and more satisfied. Any one can begin to be more mindful when eating. So why not give it a go!
Here are 5 top tips to start mindful eating!
5 tips to get you started eating mindfully
Mindful eating will only work for you can make it compatible with your lifestyle. Here are some of my favorite tips to introduce mindfulness to mealtimes in an easy, accessible fashion.
Eating slowly doesn't have to mean taking it to extremes. Still, it's a good idea to remind yourself, and your family, that eating is not a race. Taking the time to savor and enjoy your food is one of the healthiest things you can do. You are more likely to notice when you are full, you'll chew your food more and hence digest it more easily, and you'll probably find yourself noticing flavors you might otherwise have missed. If you have young children, why not try making a game of it — who can chew their food the longest? Or you could introduce eating with chopsticks as a fun way to slow things down.
Savor the silence
Yes, eating in complete silence may be impossible for a family with children, but you might still encourage some quiet time and reflection. Again, try introducing the idea as a game — "let's see if we can eat for two minutes without talking" — or suggesting that one meal a week be enjoyed in relative silence. If the family mealtime is too important an opportunity for conversation to pass up, then consider introducing a quiet meal or snack time into your day when you can enjoy it alone. The NYT article, for example, noted that one dietitian simply savors a few sips of tea in complete silence when she is too busy for a complete mindful meal.
Silence the phone. Shut off the TV.
Our daily lives are full of distractions, and it's not uncommon for families to eat with the TV blaring or one family member or other fiddling with their iPhone. Consider making family mealtime, which should, of course, be eaten together, an electronics-free zone. I'm not saying you should never eat pizza in front of the TV, but that too should be a conscious choice that marks the exception, not the norm.
Pay attention to flavor
The tanginess of a lemon, the spicyness of arugula, the crunch of a pizza crust — paying attention to the details of our food can be a great way to start eating mindfully. After all, when you eat on the go or wolf down your meals in five minutes, it can be hard to notice what you are even eating, let alone truly savor all the different sensations of eating it. If you are trying to introduce mindful eating to your family, consider talking more about the flavors and textures of food. Ask your kids what the avocado tastes like, or how the hummus feels. And be sure to share your own observations and opinions too. (Yes, this goes against the eating in silence piece, but you don't have to do everything at once.)
Know your food
Mindfulness is really about rekindling a relationship with our food. From planting a veggie garden through baking bread to visiting a farmers market, many of the things we locavores have been preaching about for years are not just ways to cut our carbon food print, but also connect with the story behind our food. Even when you have no idea where the food you are eating has come from, try asking yourself some questions about the possibilities: Who grew this? How? Where did it come from? How did it get here? Chances are, you'll not only gain a deeper appreciation for your food, but you'll find your shopping habits changing in the process too.
Like I say, mindful eating does not have to be an exercise in super-human concentration, but rather a simple commitment to appreciating, respecting and, above all, enjoying the food you eat every day. It can be practiced with salad or ice cream, donuts or tofu, and you can introduce it at home, at work, or even as you snack on the go (though you may find yourself doing this less often).
And while the focus becomes how you eat, not what you eat, you may find your notions of what you want to eat shifting dramatically for the better too.
I am a Counsellor in Ashford Kent and I specialise in disordered eating, obseity and Gastric surgery. I also work with many other issues that you may be facing. Please see the first page of my website for my contact information.