The importance of food in our life is not lost on us. Many of us know how critical it is to eat healthy and nutritious food which also satisfies our taste buds. What most of us don’t realize is the importance of mindful eating. It’s not just chewing our food for a long time or eating slowly, rather it encompasses the principles of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment non-judgmentally. It is being aware of our thoughts, physical sensations, and emotions in the present moment. Being mindful helps cultivate balance, wisdom, choice, and acceptance of what is. With practice, one can free themselves of reactive and habitual patterns of thinking, acting, and feeling.
So what is mindful eating?
Mindful eating is allowing yourself to identify and take advantage of the positive and nurturing opportunities available through the selection and preparation of food, by acknowledging your inner wisdom. It is to be aware of the food that you are putting inside your body and observing without judgment how the food makes you feel, signals about taste, satisfaction, and satiety.
It is not about eating the right stuff or having a perfect diet, but about being mindful as you shop, cook, serve and eat your food. This helps you be more attuned to your body, helping you avoid overeating episodes and changing your dietary habits easily. It also eases anxiety and stress.
Other benefits of mindful eating include appreciating food more and obtaining pleasure from what you eat, choosing healthier food options by observing how each type of food makes you feel after you eat it. This enhances digestion since we eat slower, building a connection with our food.
How to practice mindful eating?
The simple answer to this question is to be mindful while eating your food. One should eat with all their attention and focus on food rather than being preoccupied with something while eating. It is alright to take it slow, practicing it for a short 5 minute period and going up from there.
Use all your senses while you are shopping, preparing, serving, and eating your food. Seek answers to how different types of food smell, taste, look. What sound do they make while being cooked, etc?
While shopping, keep in mind the health value of whatever you are putting into your cart and avoid impulse buying.
Sit with a good posture while you are eating and be relaxed. Tune into the tranquility while also embracing change. Appreciate that you have delicious and healthy food on your table and acknowledge the journey it has had to reach you.
Pay attention to your hunger, know why you are eating at that moment. Know your intentions behind eating a specific meal. Eat when you have an appetite, not just to fill your stomach.
Feel the food completely assimilate. Don’t rush to finish the food. Observe the texture and taste of your food, identify the ingredients and flavours. Chew your food slowly and thoroughly and observe the way you chew and how it feels like.
Following these steps can help you get started on practicing mindful eating. The benefits of it may not be seen immediately, but you will definitely observe them over a period of time.