I am sure most of you have heard the term mindfulness before, but did you know that is can also be applied to how we eat?
To eat mindfully we use the act of mindfulness (or being present) to help us to overcome our eating problems in what can only be described as increasingly hectic lives! Our focus and goals shift from thinking externally about food to exploring and enjoying the actual eating experience. At this point I really need to say that this is NOT a diet is about being focused around developing a new mindset with food.
My definition of mindful eating is: “paying attention to an eating experience with all of our senses (seeing, tasting, hearing, smelling, feeling); witnessing the emotional and physical responses that take place before, during and after the eating experience”
Practicing a more mindful approach to eating can enhance the enjoyment of your meals, reduce overeating, aid good digestion, reduce anxious thoughts surrounding food, and improve your psychological relationship with food.
What defines mindlessly eating:
If you consistently eat till you are overly full or sick
Have trouble remembering the taste, smell and look of the meal you have eaten
Eat surrounded by distractions - think TV, phone, iPads
Rush your meals
Consistently grazing on food and not truly tasting it
How can you practice mindful eating?
Make mealtimes a priority – try to really sit down and enjoy your meal
Avoid distractions whilst eating (except for dining company). It is impossible to truly enjoy eating (or food) whilst our attention is elsewhere. Ask yourself how often you eat while in the car? While watching TV? Or in front of your computer? Eating in these circumstances is usually mindless and can lead to overeating, choosing unhealthier options or not enjoying your meal at all. Make note (in your mind or on paper) of the times or circumstances where you eat surrounded by distractions. This will make you more aware of those situations and help you to avoid them.
Always sit down for a meal
Avoid being rushed
Always serve your food onto a plate or bowl – avoid eating out of packets
Make a conscious effort to really chew your food
Eat only until you are just full – this means you are satisfied but not over full
Prepare your own meal where you can – the act of preparing may improve your psychological relationship with food
Take time to truly savour and taste your food. Use your senses! Before eating take note of the look, smell, and overall appeal of the meal you are about to eat. During the meal identify components of the food you taste. What is the flavour? What can you smell? How does it feel in your mouth?
Look at shifting from the same white plates or ones you always use to different colours and textures. This will help create different themes to your meal but also help on a sensory level. Remember you don’t have to spend a fortune, head to Kmart or an op shop for some cheap great pieces.
I would like you all to truly think about embracing mindful eating and in fact I challenge you to give it a go! As always, I would love to hear how you go with.