I’m sure you’ve heard of mindfulness, but what about mindful eating? So often today we inhale our food because we’re in a rush, stressed or distracted. Unfortunately with this speed means we often don’t chew our food properly and as a result struggle to get all the wonderful nutrients out of it. When we take the time to sit down and apply the art of mindful eating the benefits are countless. Not only are we able to truly taste and appreciate our food, we actually end up eating less and feeling more satisfied. As a result of taking the time to chew our food properly our digestion is improved which leads to whole range of other benefits. With these and many more benefits in mind, we’ve outlined some simple tips to help you start practising mindful eating:
It’s easy to get swept up in big statements like “every meal I will practice mindful eating” or “I’ll never eat on the run again”. Unfortunately in reality to make these massive changes in one go is a really difficult task and if we mess up a little, it can often result in feeling discouraged and giving up. Start with small changes and goals, then go from there. Choose one meal or snack each day for a week and practice mindful eating at that time. Slowly you’ll find it crossover to other meals without even trying.
We’re so used to multitasking all day long that the habit frequently crosses over into our meal times. Put down your phone, turn off the computer, switch off the tv and just be present with your meal. These distractions take your attention away from the food in front of you and focus it on something else, something that often creates a stress response in our bodies (not the state you want to be in when digesting food).
By sitting down at a table each time you eat you are forcing yourself to focus on the food in front of you. Getting into this habit also means you stop eating on the run (great for portion control and optimal digestion).
When you sit down at the table with your meal take 3 deep breaths before doing anything else. Not only will this make you more present for the meal you’re about to eat but it will switch on your parasympathetic nervous system, also known as your rest and digest state – perfect for eating!
At SHDC this is a big one for us. Don’t worry so much about counting until 100 chews, just make sure you take the time to chew your food enough so that it is broken down properly and easy to swallow. This is a great time to really focus on the flavours of the food and note if it is spicy or sweet, salty or sour. Think about what textures there are and what colours there are. Taking your time to chew and appreciate your food will help stop you from overeating and will allow you to truly enjoy each and every meal.
Using cutlery means you are more likely to eat whole foods that aren’t processed. It also means you need to chop your food up, rather than just mindlessly shovel it in your mouth. Try and put your cutlery down between each mouthful, this will help you stay more mindful about how much you have eaten, what each mouthful tastes like and how much more you have on your plate.
Cooking food should be a relaxing and enjoyable process. By cooking your own food you are more aware of what is going into it and more likely to make healthier decisions than eating out. This can also be a mindful time where you just focus on what is in front of you and the task at hand rather than multitasking.
So there you have it. Some tips to get you started on mindful eating. By taking the time to properly eat and enjoy our food we set our bodies up to get the most out of it.