What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is about bringing awareness to how you eat, what you eat and the actual experience of eating in itself. Eating is something that we often do on automatic pilot without always paying attention to what we eat, how much we eat, how it tastes and how it affects us.
Doing an everyday activity mindfully involves using all our senses and connecting with the sensations in our body to ground ourselves in the present moment. So to eat mindfully, start by having a good look at what you’re about to eat. Take note of the textures, shapes and colours. Notice the smells and sounds. When you take a bite, notice the temperature, the texture and all the different tastes.
Be aware of how the food feels on your fork or in your hand, then how it feels in your mouth. Notice your mouth chewing away and how it feels when you are swallowing. Pay attention to the thoughts and feelings that you have while eating. Certain foods may remind you of a particular event, whether pleasant and unpleasant.
Mindful eating also involves paying attention to how you feel before and after eating, how you shop for food and how you prepare food.
Impact of Mindful Eating on Health and Well-Being
Research has found that eating mindfully improves digestion, gives more energy; prevents type 2 diabetes, overeating, excessive snacking as well as helping lose weight. It does so in three main ways by:
- Focusing your Attention
When you eat mindfully, you do so very slowly as you focus solely on the sensations associated with eating, if thoughts come in, you notice them but let them go, bringing yourself back to feeling the sensations in your body. By doing so, it will improve your digestion. Indeed, if you eat while thinking about other things or doing something else, you may feel tense as a result which will affect your digestion. Similarly, if you eat very quickly to be able to go and do something else, your digestion may also suffer as a result.
Mindful eating also helps improve health and well-being by enabling you to really appreciate the foods that we eat and be fully in the present moment either on your own or with family and friends.
- Tuning into your body
Indeed, we are not always aware of what we actually put in our bodies and how the foods that we eat affect us. Some type of foods or ingredients or drinks may make cause us discomfort but if we ignore those body messages, the symptoms are likely to get worse overtime and impact negatively on our health and well-being. That is something that I have certainly experienced on several occasions.
By tuning into your body and how you feel while you eat and after you eat, you will be able to notice how different foods affect you will make it easier for you to avoid products and ingredients that are causing discomfort at least for a certain period of time. By eating mindfully, you will be able to notice when you are feeling full and avoid overeating.
- Becoming aware of our attitudes to food
We are not always aware of why we eat when we do. Indeed, we might be overeating or snacking when we are not really hungry because we crave for sugary foods or we eat out of boredom or for comfort. Therefore, it is also very important to notice our thought patterns and emotions associated with food before we can change our attitudes to food. For instance, ask yourself if you are snacking because you are really hungry right now or if it is for another reason. What kind of thoughts are going through your mind? What emotions are you feeling that are causing you to eat right now?
This awareness will help you lose weight, improve your relationship to food and improve your overall health and well-being.
Eating mindfully is also a very fulfilling, peaceful and joyful experience that you can enjoy on your own and with others. If you live in Melbourne and would like to try a very unique sensory dining experience consisting of mindful eating activities and discussions in small groups in a friendly non-judgmental environment in a restaurant, then come to the event of Living with Mindful Awareness on Friday 20th October at 7pm in St Kilda. For more information and tickets please go to, https://www.meetup.com/Living-with-Mindful-Awareness/events/243353884/