Mindful Eating

Remind me why we are taught to not play with our food? My quality time with the food in this picture got me thinking about mindful eating.

Have you ever opened a bag of chips and 5 minutes later found yourself looking around wondering who ate the whole bag, just to realize that it was you? It’s like driving on a familiar route and arrive 20 minutes later but you aren’t quite sure how you got there. It’s likely you were off in the vast wonderland of your mind…on the phone…or jamming too hard to that J. Beiber song on the radio. It doesn’t  take much to drift away from the present.

We are use to living in the hustle and bustle of our society and are accustomed to quick and easy. It’s even trickled into our relationship with food. Eating has become a new “quickie.” Forget planning, foreplay, a cuddle session-“no thank you”, “let’s just check it off the list”, “1-2-3 done.” This leaves us feeling disconnected, and even at war with food. So let’s slow down, put in some effort, and reconnect with food.

Here are some simple ways that I’ve found helpful in supporting mindful eating:

  1. Sitting at the table to eat. After a long day, the couch and Netflix calls, but they can wait until after dinner. I use to stand and eat my breakfast as I rushed around the house, or ate the rest of my breakfast in the car. I slowly shifted to going to bed 20 minutes earlier to wake up 20 minutes earlier to prevent eating on the go.
  2. Scooping instead of shoveling. We’re not digging for treasure at the bottom of the bowl. Remember to pause and breathe between some bites. We often get through a meal without even putting our utensils down once. This will also help eliminate the frustration of spending 30-40 minutes to cook a meal and only 3 minutes of eating it. 
  3. Not to to sound like your Mother, but she was right, chew your food. This will help with the pacing, and your stomach will appreciate the digestive support. Try counting to 20 while you chew. If this feels like FOREVER and your jaw feels like it’s getting a work out, chances aren’t chewing your food enough. If chewing each bite for 20 seconds feels like you’re trying to run a marathon without any training, aim for 10 seconds instead.
  4. Turn off electronics and put down the book. Eliminating all distractions so that you can focus on eating and being in the now. I find this one to be most challenging, especially if I’m eating by myself. 
  5. Cook! I love cooking, but honestly when I’m physically and mentally exhausted at the end of a work day it feels more like a chore. Working on balancing your week to allow some time to enjoy cooking can be really helpful. You start to have a better appreciation for food and what goes into making a meal.  While cooking consider the process that the food went through before you even started cooking; planting the seed, farming, even the grocery store you purchase it from. This is a good time to start being aware and acknowledging every step and the energy that it takes to provide you with your life fuel–FOOD. 
  6. Be mindful about how you feel before, during, and after eating. This may help you identify any emotional eating, or how a particular food is interacting with your body. Our body has an amazing way of communicating with us, we just have stop and listen carefully. 

As with any new practice, it takes time and some realism to implement. I think it’s important to meet yourself where you are. Pick even one strategy that you want to work on first, maybe you decide to wake up 20 minutes earlier to eat your breakfast at the table instead of the car. Maybe you just try it once a week at first. It will become habit, and you may find yourself motivated by the enjoyment of your new trend. ALWAYS do it with love, no down talking if you feel you aren’t doing enough or doing it right. Small steps develop into big changes.

It’s amazing what you can see when you slow down, and become present. Pay attention and find the joy in your food.

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