“You cannot control everything in life, but you definitely can control what you feed your body.”
In current times, our busy lives have made mealtimes rushed affairs. Often, we are eating while commuting to work, or at the desk, or on the couch with mobile in one hand and eyes on the Television. We gulp down food, regardless of whether we’re still hungry or not.
Mindful eating is maintaining an in-the-moment awareness and focus on your experience at mealtimes. The concept of mindful eating is more about how to eat rather than what or how much you are eating. It is to focus all your senses and being present as you shop, cook, serve, and eat your food.
Here are some actionable ways to practice this way of eating.
- Breathe before you eat
Just before you pick a fruit or a bar to savour on or sit on your dining table for a meal, its important to slow down and breath. Most of the time we are fogged up with our thoughts and our daily chores which puts more in a fight and flight mode rather than a rest and digest mode. To be able to digest and assimilate our food well we need to calm down and allow our brain to perceive the food in front of us so that it can signal our digestive system to initiate the digestion process and connect with our food in a more deeper way.
- Chew thoroughly and enjoy your meals without distraction
Everything seems to have been sped up – on the go breakfast or quick lunch in between a meeting has become a part of our culture. Because of this food ends up entering the stomach barely chewed and can cause digestive distress like bloating, constipation etc.
Slowing down the process of eating allows you to be in present and truly assess – If you are still hungry or just mindlessly eating?
It’s important to slow down the pace of your eating. Consciously experience – the tastes, texture, look and smell which together contribute to the experience of eating.
The more we chew our food, the more time the brain has to communicate with the stomach, release acids and enzymes and eventually pass the satiety signal.
- Trust your hunger cues
Your hunger cues are your body’s way of telling you that it requires energy. Instead of eating calorie guided scheduled meals or eating by the clock, mindful eating helps you determine hunger cues and eat in response to that to satiate yourself rather than satisfy your situational or environmental triggers. This will help you improve your relationship with food and cope up with boredom, stressed and emotional eating.
- Strike a balance between foods that nourish you and satisfy you
Providing the body with essential nutrients for various functions is important. But besides fuelling our body, food is also about connection, pleasure, culture, celebrations and fun. It is absolutely normal to want and enjoy the taste of something that is not specifically nutrient-dense.
Find foods that are nutrient-dense as well as you enjoy and also don’t feel guilty for enjoying foods that you like but aren’t as nutritious.
- Express gratitude and journaling
When you sit down to eat – express gratitude for what all you have. The more you appreciate, the more in-the-moment you will be with your choices.
Journaling can help you resolve mindlessness over time. Just start by noting down your relationship with various foods, struggles and feelings after eating them and see where your mind takes you. It also helps to measure your progress in a tangible manner.
- Self Check-In
By checking on self before and after meals, you can become self-aware and determine if you are hungry or full, relaxed or stressed and also understand why is it that you are eating. Before and after eating, always take a moment and ask yourself, “How do you feel?”. By doing so, you will develop a habit of being mindful of your eating habits.
The perfect doesn’t exist. For those practising mindful eating for years may also give in sometimes but that totally okay. It makes you think and realise that if you weren’t eating mindfully then why were you eating only? And this learning and its reflections on situations help you understand yourself better and also improve your digestion and make a positive significant influence in your life.