When was the last time that you enjoyed at least one meal of your day having an actual conversation with your loved ones or paying attention to what is on your plate, instead of eating in auto-mode whilst playing a game or watching a TV show? My guess is – a long while ago! Right? Read on to know how mindful eating can transform your personal life along with your health & well-being, for good 😊
I confess – while I’ve shown you how to cook healthy meals and maybe given a glimpse or two of my fitness journey (mostly on my Instagram feed), I’ve never actually spoken about how to inculcate these healthy eating choices in your life, so that these habits can actually stick! Well, it’s been a constant learning journey for me too, and here I am, presenting to you a concept that has begun to resonate with me more with every passing day.
Ever noticed how the quest to eat the ‘right’ food starts to feel like a burden, a stressful task to execute, even if you try your best to fit it in your daily life? Do you also sometimes question the intention of making a particular food choice? I began to realize lately that while food is a fundamental part of life, getting anxious about food choices wasn’t, and that is when the concept of mindful eating began to make more and more sense.
WHAT IS MINDFUL EATING
Deriving its origin from Buddhism, mindful eating focuses on ‘how, when, where and how much we eat’, in addition to ‘what we eat’. The idea here is to concentrate on the experience of eating and to appreciate the same, and this can be achieved by turning off the TV, putting the laptop in sleep mode, keeping the phone away from you and placing your entire attention onto your plate, the flavors and textures it comprises of, and on chewing every morsel. Are you beginning to see why its also known as intuitive eating or ‘opposite of diets’?
1. Improve your Relationship with Food
Originally, food was meant to fuel your body, thus allowing you to lead a day full of energy and zest. However, over the centuries we have transformed food into a means to represent our state of mind and desires, giving rise to unconscious behaviors that hamper our health and well-being. Have you ever given thought to what emotional and physical cues drive you to pick your next meal option? Do you recognize if you have any triggers which are in no way related to hunger, but lead to you consuming an entire snack pack?
One of the core principles of mindful eating advocate being aware of all six facets of food consumption, as depicted and explained by Michelle May, MD, Am I hungry. Most eating disorders and unhealthy patterns are a result of ‘unconscious behaviors’ around eating patterns and choices that one has repeated over a span of several years, making it a habit. Mindfulness allows you to be aware of your choices and habits without judgement, thus helping you improve your choices and change your behavior. Eat mindfully and start saying no to ignoring hunger cues, senseless fad diets and the practice of answering your emotions with food!
- Weight Management made easier!
This one’s easy – if you’re aware of what, when, how much, where and how you’re eating, high chances are that you will not pick the unhealthy stuff off the grocery store aisles and stuff your face crazy even when you’re full. Mindfulness also enables you to eat slowly and consciously as you savor every morsel, allowing your body to notify you when satiety is reached, helping you avoid over-eating.
With mindfulness, you can tune into your body’s hunger-alerting system and food cravings. You would be aware of various reasons you eat for, even when you’re not really hungry. What’s more, if you’re mindful you won’t even reach out for that large tub of popcorn just because you’re used to doing that when at the movies, or for that calorie-laden icecream just because you’re feeling the blues. Yay to recognizing emotional and non-hunger cues and eating only when we really need to! See yourself gradually learning to keep the unwanted kilos at bay?
- Keep Chronic Diseases at bay
There is ample evidence that points that mindful eating can play a key role in preventing the onset and in some cases, even alleviating the existing conditions like cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, gastrointestinal problems, depression and even cancer. Medical practitioners have used mindfulness with meditation to resolve depression, eating-related disorders and stress. It is a fact that mindfulness allows you to non-judgmentally observe your food triggers, enabling you to pick healthier foods with greater nutritional value. It also helps in better rate of digestion and more efficient absorption of nutrients, keeping you healthy and happy for the longer run.
- Make mealtime fun!
One of Buddha’s popular sayings goes as “Happiness is a journey and not a destination” – simple yet poignant, ain’t it? Practicing mindfulness enables you to tune into the entire process of your daily meal preparation. When you are mindful about the time and effort you put in prepping the ingredients, cooking them and arranging the same on a plate is when you can truly enjoy the experience and savor your meal, however simple it is. To make it more fun, invite your family members or friends for a meal and cook together – it could create fond memories to last a lifetime and strengthen bonds. Such a welcome contrast compared to when we cook and eat on auto-mode! 😊
- Change your Perspective
Being aware of where your food came from, how much time it took you to prepare a meal, how you eat it and how you feel afterwards tunes your mind into being more observant and thankful for every one who put forward their efforts to make it available to you in a timely manner. Expression of gratitude in this way can bring a positive shift in different areas of your life, not just eating!
Think you’re too busy to be mindful for every meal? Give it a try for 2 meals/ snacks a day and observe the changes it brings. High chances are you’ll start noticing the benefits and start paying attention to every food you eat. Do share your thoughts and experiences with all of us here
Wishing you loads of health and happiness 😊