Mindfulness for eating is something we can all do, each and every day. It’s a simple process that improves our life, health and well-being.
If you’re not familiar with the practice of mindfulness, let’s start with a definition from The Greater Good Magazine at the University of California, Berkeley.
Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens.
In simple terms, I recommend you take the time to appreciate and notice your food. If that sounds a bit too simple, read on and I’ll explain.
Make the Time to Notice Your Life
Have you ever eaten a meal in front of the TV or scanning through social media on your smart phone? Have you got to the end pf the meal and had no recollection of what you just ate or what it really tasted like?
It happens to us all and we get distracted by the many other things going on in our lives. Food is a means to an end. It’s a way of getting protein, carbs and liquid into our bodies. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Mindfulness is a close cousin of the Law of Attraction. The Law of attraction states that we attract into our lives what we think about and focus on most of the time.
The practice of mindfulness helps calm us down, become present, focus on the “Now” and how we can connect with our life. Mindfulness also gives us the space to be aware of what we want to attract and manifest in our lives.
When it comes to mindfulness for eating, we are choosing to notice our food, notice our health, notice who we’re with and what the eating experience means to us.
We’re not letting life pass us by on auto-pilot, we’re making choices in what, where and how we eat.
The more thoughtful we are about our present, the less dominated we are by regrets about the past or fears about the future. We give ourselves the mental space to accept our situation. This space in turn allows us to be aware of our thoughts and we get to choose the best ones!
Mindfulness for Eating – 6 Great Benefits
OK, so how does this all relate to our eating habits? Perhaps more than you realize.
Let’s have a look at why you should consider becoming a mindful eater.
1. Enjoy Your Food
Mindful eating helps you enjoy your food more.
You take the time to notice the taste, texture and aromas. You think more about the dishes you eat and the types of food you genuinely like. The different flavorings and variations food actually taste better when you take the time to notice them!
With mindful eating, you spend time focusing on the aroma, texture, and taste of your food. By the time you’re done, you feel like you’ve savored every morsel.
2. Waste Less Food
When you’re aware of how much you eat, you’re less likely to waste food.
You’ll cook enough to eat at mealtime but no more. When you’re aware of how much you eat you realize there is no need to waste food.
Of if you have leftovers, what are the delicious new meals you can make with the excess food?
If you’re wasting less food, you’re spending less money and making your food budget stretch further.
3. Enjoy the Preparation
We all prepare our food. Even if it is pouring milk into a bowl of cereal, you’re preparing food. However, do you pay attention to the preparation?
If not, you’re missing a great opportunity to be more mindful and enjoy another aspect of your food. Of course, if you love cooking, you’re already aware of this joy.
Here are some ways to be more present in the food preparation:
- Respect the utensils – notice the cookware you’re using, does it have a special meaning (it was grandma’s?), how is it textured and feel in your hands?
- Enjoy the aromas – as you cook and prepare your food notice the different aromas. What you smell with raw ingredients in front of you is likely to be different to the final meal. Enjoy and notice all the aromas at all the stages of cooking.
- Take time to prep – cut slowly, be measured in how you pour, place carefully in the oven, stir well. Enjoy the process.
- Include others – get the kids to help put tableware out, have your partner prepare the drinks, ask friends to bring ingredients. Make cooking social.
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4. Eat Less and Lose Weight
Mindful eating requires us to take our time to acknowledge each bite of food and enjoy the taste and texture. Slow eating helps digestion and you feel fuller on less food.
Chew your food thoughtfully. Pause between each bite. Enjoy the taste. Consider whether you need more. You’ll find the slower eating and thoughtful consideration means you more aware of being full. You now have the choice to stop.
You are now “eating to full” instead of “eating to finish”. Just through the practice of mindfulness you can choose to eat less and lose weight.
5. Stop Distracted Eating
Enjoying your food with mindful eating means you are no longer a “distracted eater”.
A distracted eater is someone who sits in front of the TV, eats a tub of ice cream but cannot remember what they ate, what it tasted like but all they know is they are wider because of it and don’t feel so well.
Mindfulness helps you reduce or eliminate distracted eating from your life. You’ll be healthier for it.
6. Appreciate the Company You Keep
Another benefit of mindful eating is that you appreciate the company you’re with.
The people you share food with may be a friend, family members, or simply yourself.
With mindful eating, you’re not focused on finishing your next portion. You take time to savor your food as well as the company you keep. Mealtimes become an important part of every day instead of pit stops in your daily routine.
Accept Life Will Get in the Way!
Of course, eating mindfully is your goal.
However, your life, work, friends and family all have calls on your time. You won’t always be able to take the time to eat as mindfully as you would like.
When you find you didn’t practice mindfulness for eating, just commit to mindful eating tomorrow. That’s the journey you’re on, just go easy on yourself.
Work how to gradually introduce mindful eating into your schedule.
Take the time to appreciate this important part of your life.
You won’t regret it – you’ll feel healthier and happier because you did.