Although mindful eating is very holistic and all-encompassing, as far as our relationship to our eating, many people, especially when first involving themselves in mindful eating, concentrate their mindfulness on their mealtimes.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this approach, and nothing trains a person’s mindfulness better than truly and honestly focusing on fully experiencing a dining event. This entails conscious thought and bringing in as many senses as possible to the experience.
Even something as simple as a cup of coffee can be more abundantly experienced. How many times have you guzzled a coffee at work, yet shortly after, can’t remember the taste, let alone any of the other nuances that could have made it more enjoyable.
Consider, that taking a moment to hit the mindfulness switch before consuming could add so much to a simple coffee, by reflecting not only on taste, texture, temperature and other aspects of the beverage, but how it makes you feel, during and afterwards, physically and emotionally. In doing so, you will find that rather than rushing for another cup, you will savor the emotional aftertaste for much longer.
Unconscious eating and drinking behaviors are behind so much of the over-consumption of food and drinks that cause so many on our medical problems today.
Expand this thinking beyond a simple cup of coffee and you can glimpse how mindful eating can help you reduce the volumes you consume, yet enjoy what you do eat and drink so much more.
What Are You Eating?
Surely you’ve come across the many claims for superfoods? Every health-based website and magazine has undoubtedly featured an article (or seven) on the benefits of superfoods: the nutrient-packed, energy providing foods that help with every ailment known to man and help you lose and/or maintain weight.
Or the latest trending diets recommended by nutritionists and gym junkies? Of course we can’t forget the celebrity endorsements encouraging us to join a meals program at every turn.
Each one of these concepts encourages certain foods. The main focus is what you are eating to get the results you are seeking. Eating mindfully turns the focus around to a bit so you are particularly focused on why you are eating when you eat, how you are eating and the environment in which you eat.
Why Are you Eating?
Eating mindfully has an exceptional focus point on why you are eating.
Are you eating to comfort yourself? Sometimes when we stress about things the first thing we do is reach for something to eat, a particular item or even full meal which has brought comfort in the past or brings up good memories.
Are you eating out of convenience? Many have also created unhealthy habits of eating whatever is close, cheap and convenient, no matter the nutritional value, or lack thereof.
Mindful eating enables us to make sure the why is justified and in our best interest. When we consider food as a fuel for our bodies we recalibrate our thought process, or become more mindful, about the foods we ingest.
Paradoxically, by reducing the focus on what we are eating by prioritizing the why, we make better choices on what we eat with reduced feelings of scarcity and abstinence.
How Are You Eating?
Eating mindfully also encompasses the idea of eating slowly, savoring the nourishment you are providing your body, and even considering where the food originated. Appreciate the hands that cultivated the soil, fed the plants and provided this food for your enjoyment. Chew each bite deliberately and take time to notice the flavors and textures.
Where Are You Eating?
Today it’s hard to find a calm and relaxing environment for basically anything, let alone a meal. With mindful eating it’s important to enjoy your meal or snack uninterrupted by electronic devices. Turn off your phone and TV; no need to surf the web or scroll through social media while you’re trying to eat mindfully. Unplug from outside distractions and enjoy a meal with your family or friends.
Do not under-estimate the power of this aspect – mindfulness is all about engaging more fully in the experience. This is the real power of mindful eating.