Have you ever finished eating an entire meal and you don’t remember tasting one bite? Have you ever gotten to the bottom of a bag of chips and wondered how you got there? These are examples of mind-less eating. Mindful eating is just the opposite. Mindful eating is offering yourself the time to savor your food. Mindful eating is pausing for a moment to be grateful for your food. It is taking the time to notice the aromas of your food, to chew your food thoroughly and really taste your food. When you eat mindfully you notice the impact your food choices have on your body and your mind.
To understand mindful eating, it is helpful to understand mindfulness as a practice. Mindfulness is paying attention from moment to moment with a nonjudgmental awareness. It is being completely grounded and present in the here and the now. The past can only exist as a memory within your mind and the future can only exist as a fantasy within your mind. When you engage with the present moment, you are truly aware and awake in your life. When you bring this concept into every aspect of your life, you become more peaceful and content.
Living mindfully allows you to be conscious and clear as you make any choice. When you bring mindfulness into your mealtimes, you will be more in tune, conscious and clear about what you choose to eat. Remaining nonjudgmental is essential. When you are calm and grounded while eating, you are more likely to assimilate the nutrients in your food. Digestion begins before you even take a bite. Allowing this process to be peaceful, mindful and pleasurable will enhance your life in many ways.
When you tune out the stressors such as your cell phone, TV, emails and social media, and tune into your experience of eating, you will create a closer relationship with your food. When eating mindfully, you will notice your hunger and full cues with more awareness. This creates freedom to make a choice in the present moment. Eating mindfully offers the opportunity to recognize how your food choices make you feel: mentally, physically, emotionally, energetically and spiritually. Mindful eating is extremely powerful and helps to reduce and heal emotional, stress and disordered eating.
To begin integrating mindful eating into your daily life, try this practice starting today. Begin with one meal or snack and commit to eating it mindfully. Turn off your cell phone and any other distractions such as the TV or loud music. Take a few slow, steady and deep breaths. Look at your food, take a moment to be grateful for it. Notice the aromas of your food. As you begin to eat, become aware of the textures of your food. If you are eating with your hands, place your food down between bites. If you are using a utensil, place it down between bites. Practice chewing slowly and thoroughly, really tasting and savoring your food.
When you are finished with your meal or snack, reflect on the impact of your food choice. Tune into the physical sensations you experience after eating this food. Take some slow, deep breaths and notice if you feel satisfied by what you ate and how full you feel. Notice if you enjoyed what you ate. Become aware of your energy and mood following this mindful eating practice. Thank yourself for taking this time to eat mindfully and to tune into your body. As you continue to bring mindful eating into your daily routine, notice the impact on your relationship with food as well as with yourself.