For me, the best way to understand exactly what eating mindfully means, is to think about it’s opposite – mindless eating.
Mindless eating is probably how many of us eat, these days. Busy lives, trying to fit everything in, and that includes our meals. We eat while pouring over phones, watching television or just before rushing to the next place we need to be.
We’re distracted, and according to mindfulness experts, we’ve lost touch with the simple pleasure and joy of enjoying food.
Another one that rings true for me is the random opening cupboards and the fridge, when I’m feeling bored. Hmm, what do I want, what do I feel like it? I could even just stand here at the counter top and eat it, no real point in getting a plate…
This usually occurs when I’m alone, and mulling something from the day over in my mind.
Listening to your body
Mindfulness practitioners instead advise listening to your body, and not always your mind. So instead of reaching for food when you are triggered – maybe you’re feeling stressed, sad, lonely or bored – stop for a second. What is really going on, how are you feeling, what is causing this emotional hunger?
Eating mindfully looks like this:
- Slow down – you’ve probably heard before that it takes the body about 20 minutes to “catch up” to the brain, which means we’re often still eating when we are full. Instead, consciously slow down, savouring tastes and chewing thoroughly.
- Be wary of emotional triggers – what do you need? Why are you feeling the urge to reach for food, what comfort do you require at that time..
- Be mindful of where and when you eat – try to eat comfortably at a table, taking your time, without distractions like phones or television. Eat with others as much as you can.
- Be playful, make eating an enjoyable occasion – a client told me years ago the turning point for her was when she bought new cutlery and crockery; it helped to remind her that eating can be pleasurable and not a chore, not something to feel bad about.
Mindful eating is backed by solid scientific research, which is showing more and more that it helps us to develop a healthier relationship with food. In an age of very distressing relationships with food, and toxic diet culture, instilling mindful eating in your life can only be a good thing. Get in touch if you’d like to know more 🙂