Many of us go through life thinking that there is this secret code to eating right. As if there’s a magic formula, and once we get it down, we’ll be thinner, happier and more successful.
But in reality, there’s more to it.
Yes, it’s important to include nutritious food into your daily diet, but itis equally vital to include a connection to your meal time. A truly healthy lifestyle includes mindfulness.
That’s right, how you eat matters. And mindful eating is just that: paying attention to how you eat and how it makes you feel.
In his book, “Mindfulness for Beginners” author Jon Kabat-Zinn states that “mindfulness is awareness, cultivated by paying attention in a sustained and particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” On paper this sounds easy enough. Sit down. Eat. Done. But in reality, life begs a different direction. Common mindfulness detours involve busy schedules, waiting too long to eat and boredom. Here are some tips to get you started on a more mindful way of approaching mealtimes.
Commit to your meal and give yourself the space to sit and enjoy it. It’s easy to lose track of how much has been eaten, how it tasted and how your body feels when you eat while standing, walking or grazing through the fridge.
When it’s time to eat, do just that. Turn off distractions and focus on your meal.
Put your fork or spoon down between bites. Then, take a sip of water. Give yourself time between each bite to appreciate the appearance and aroma of the food on your plate.
Chew slowly and feel the texture and flavor of the food. Is it crunchy, spicy or velvety-thick? Pay attention to how the taste makes you feel and experience each bite.
If you write with your right hand, eat with your left and vice-versa. By putting the mechanics of eating into your non-dominant hand, you are forced to slow down and pay attention to scooping up each bite.
Buy fresh fruit and place it in a place where it is always available and visible. Pre-pack healthy snacks for work and keep a water bottle nearby everywhere you go. Accept that you will be hungry again in a few hours or in the next day, and be ready for it.
Even if you’re ravenous, take a deep breath, give yourself a moment to relax and focus before eating.
Take the food you want to eat out of the package, pan or pot. Serve yourself a helping onto a real plate. Break out the good china if you have it. Allow your mind to register that you are eating a meal, right here and right now.
In the end, eating mindfully is making the time to feed your body, mind and spirit. Have you tried mindful eating? Any other tips you would recommend?
Author: Maggie Henderson