Mindful eating is a practice that allows us to better connect with ourselves and our food during an activity that we do every day. The core of the practice is placing our full attention on every aspect of this fulfilling activity.
Not only does approaching eating in this way improve our overall skill of mindfulness, but it also improves the digestion of our food and brings a lot more joy to the activity of eating.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a state of consciousness that allows you to become more aware of thoughts, emotions, and sensations. It allows you to better cope with unsettling thoughts and feelings and have more control in your life.
Mindfulness can be used to treat many psychological conditions such as: eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Many of these conditions also manifest physical symptoms, such as headaches, muscle tension, and digestive issues.
Mindfulness is a skill and its benefits increase the longer you hold a consistent practice. “Mind-wandering” is a habit that is largely formed in our youth and can be seen as a state of mind that lacks mindfulness. This habit is often the cause of children performing poorly in school and in other aspects of their lives. Just like healthy food habits, mindfulness is a skill that shows great promise when introduced to young children who are still forming these core habits.
Mindfulness and Eating
Mindful eating is not a diet and does not restrict you in any way. Rather, it produces a sense of freedom because you can better connect to what you truly want to eat and how much of it your body actually needs.
When we allow ourselves to fully connect with our food, we can notice much more richness in a food’s smell, taste, texture, and how it feels in our body. This practice allows eating to become an activity in itself, rather than something that needs to be paired with another activity that steals away our attention. Watching your favorite show or rushing out the door while eating are habits that can make us less mindful eaters.
The best way to approach mindful eating is with a sense of exploration and curiosity. It is a journey of discovery that will better align your eating habits and cravings with what your body really needs.
There is nothing inherently wrong with cravings, but they are a double-edged sword. Cravings are completely natural and are a way for your body to tell you what it wants. They can become dangerous when we consistently eat foods that over-stimulate the reward centers in our brains, hijacking this communication system to make you seek out these types of foods in amounts that can be harmful to your health. These foods often contain (but are not limited to) these ingredients: sugar, simple carbohydrates, cheese, salt, chocolate, and high levels of saturated fat.
How to Practice Mindful Eating
Getting started can be easy! You don’t need any equipment or strict guidance of any kind, although you can work with a coach, attend a conference, take a course, or download mindful eating apps if you need an initial boost to get started and keep yourself on course.
There are many ways to begin this practice, and they are best practiced together, but just starting with one is powerful on its own:
Remove any distractions by putting your phone away, turning off your TV, and getting rid of anything that may pull your attention away from your food
Before preparing your food, set the intention that you will keep your full attention on any and every aspect of this activity
If you are cooking or preparing your meal:
Take a close look at everything you’ll use to prepare the meal, appreciate all the effort it took to get every ingredient from its source to your home
Pay attention to the sounds and smells coming from the ingredients as you prepare them and how these sensations change as you cook and combine the ingredients
Eat slowly and don’t rush the process
Chew thoroughly, which also aids in digestion
Eat in silence or play some meditative music to help you focus
Try to engage as many senses as you can while eating
Pay attention to your body and stop eating when you’re full
Mindful eating is best paired with another mindfulness practice, such as meditation or yoga, because these different activities reinforce each other and can improve overall mindfulness of your life.
You must eat consistently for the rest of your life. Better stated: You get to eat consistently for the rest of your life, what a blessing! Every time you sit down for the daily ritual, you have choices. You get to choose what you eat, how much you eat, and your state of mind while eating.
Mindful eating is a powerful practice that allows you to have more control over your eating habits. It also brings much more joy and depth of experience which can result in increased well-being, a healthier weight, and better digestion.
Hungry yet? So, what are you waiting for? Apply these practices to your next meal and let us know how it went and how you feel! Comment here or start your own discussion and share your experiences on the KIN Forum!